New Highway Code (historic campaign)

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New Highway Code (historic campaign)

The Government published a revised draft Highway Code in 2006. CTC were immediately concerned that the rules would undermine cyclists' right to use the road where a cycle path was provided. Following a sustained and high-profile campaign by CTC, over 40 rules were changed to the benefit of cyclists.

The Highway Code is a combination of legal requirements and advice. The latter can be used to determine liability in the event of a crash. The draft Highway Code replaced Rule 47 of the old code which said:

  • Use cycle routes when practicable. They can make your journey safer.

With:

  • Use cycle routes when practicable and cycle facilities such as advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings where they are provided, as they can make your journeys safer.

CTC feared that this added wording would strengthen the argument that cyclists should use cycle facilities. In our response to the consultation CTC objected to the wording.

Around 11,000 cyclists also sent responses to the Driving Standards Agency opposing the proposed wording.

In 2007 a new draft was laid before the Houses of Parliament for confirmation. By that stage the wording had changed only slightly, instead of 'where they are provided' it now recommended 'where possible'. This was still deemed to be an inappropriately strong wording.

CTC members and supporters wrote to their MPs to demand further changes to the wording and finally, in June 2007, a new Code presented which was deemed satisfactory.

The new rule that appears in the revised 2007 Highway Code is:

  • Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

The inclusion of the phrase 'use of these facilities is not compulsory' resolves many of the concerns of cyclists that they may be held liable if involved in a crash while using the road.

CTC's campaign also led to changes to another 40 rules in the Highway Code. However we remain concerned about the legally prejudicial effects of the rules on helmets and hi-viz, the lack of clarity on the rule about the distance drivers should leave when overtaking cyclists, and the need to strengthen cyclists' priority at various types of junction.