Cycling UK celebrates Government’s major step towards improved cycle safety

Amendments to the Highway Code will see clearer guidelines for drivers overtaking and encouragement for people to practice the "Dutch Reach"

Cycling UK celebrates Government’s major step towards improved cycle safety

Cycling UK is celebrating a significant milestone in its ongoing campaigning to improve cycle safety after the Government announced key improvements to the Highway Code.

As part of its review of cycle and pedestrian safety, Transport Minister Jesse Norman revealed the code will be revised to highlight how to avoid the dangers of close passing cyclists and encourage people to adopt the ‘Dutch Reach’ in an effort to reduce casualties caused by car dooring.

The Dutch Reach is a method of opening a car door with the hand furthest from the handle, forcing drivers and passengers to check over their shoulder for approaching traffic, including cyclists.

Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at the national cycling charity, said: “Close overtakes and people opening car doors in front of cyclists are not only dangerous, they also put people off riding a bike.

“That’s why Cycling UK has been campaigning for changes to the Highway Code rules for many years, to make the requirements crystal clear to give enough space when overtaking a cyclist, wait if you can’t, and look before you open your car door.

“We’re delighted the Government has listened and we hope to contribute to the discussions regarding the amendments required to prioritise the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.”

The announcement follows a consultation by the Government last year in the light of the Charlie Alliston court case, looking at improving safety for both cyclists and pedestrians

Alliston was riding an illegal fixed wheel bike with no front brake when he collided with mother of two, Kim Briggs as she crossed a street in London. Mrs Briggs died later from head injuries she suffered.

Meanwhile, latest road casualty statistics show that more than a hundred cyclists died in road traffic collisions in 2017.

Cycling UK has long campaigned on the issue of vehicles close passing cyclists, launching its Too Close for Comfort campaign in 2017 to provide police forces around the country with educational mats.

The charity is currently raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign to provide police with a virtual reality film and headsets to help educate drivers on what it’s like to be close passed while on a bike.

In the same year, Cycling UK campaigned for drivers to adopt the Dutch Reach, encouraging them to look over their shoulder before opening their door.

Cyclist Sam Boulton, 26, from Leicestershire was killed when he was struck by the door of a taxi opened into his path, knocking him into the path of a van outside Leicester train station in July 2016.

Jeff Boulton, Sam’s father said about the news:

“I’m relieved to hear the Government is now planning to encourage people to open their car doors safely after years of campaigning with Cycling UK on the benefits of the Dutch Reach. If only one person is saved from Sam’s tragic fate because the driver or passenger has adopted the Dutch Reach thanks to the Government’s actions then that’s a life worth saving."

Farook Yusuf Bhikhu, the taxi driver, was convicted of the offence of ‘car-dooring’ and was originally handed a £955 fine, broken down as £300 for the offence, a £30 victim surcharge and £625 court costs, to be paid in £20 weekly instalments.  Further costs of £300 were added following an unsuccessful appeal.

‘Car dooring’ is a criminal offence, punishable with a fine up to £1,000.

Contact information 

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org

Notes to editors 
  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. The Department for Transport’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) safety review consultation is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/cycling-and-walking-investment-strategy-cwis-safety-review  Over 10,000 people wrote into the Department for Transport in support of Cycling UK’s recommendations.
  3. There were 3108 reported collisions where ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ was a contributing factor in incidents attended by the police between 2011 and 2015. The breakdown below were released following a FOI from Cycling UK to the Department for Transport requesting a breakdown of the “Contributory factors for reported road accidents (RAS50)” see RAS50007 specifically https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras50-contributory-factors            
     

2011-2015 Vehicle door opened negligently: Casualties (GB)

 

NUMBER OF CASUALTIES

% of all road users

Road user type

Severity

 

Severity

 

 

Fatal

Serious

Slight

Total

Fatal

Serious

Slight

Total

Pedestrian

0

10

139

149

0.0

2.6

5.1

4.8

Pedal cyclist

5

278

1726

2009

62.5

71.1

63.7

64.6

Motor cyclist

0

34

280

314

0.0

8.7

10.3

10.1

All*

8

391

2709

3108

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

* includes drivers etc.

  1. A “car-dooring” incident is available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7aUG02uHo0 This was supplied to Cycling UK by Olukayode Ibrahim, from an incident on 04/09/2017, 78 - 80 Tower Bridge Road, London.   
  2. 'Car dooring' is a criminal offence under Regulation 105 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1986/1078/regulation/105/made  and Section 42 Road Traffic Act 1988 http://www.cyclistsdefencefund.org.uk/the-law-for-cyclists-hit-by-vehicle-doors. However this offence is only punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 and no penalty points can be imposed on the offender’s licence.  
  3. Dr Rachel Aldred’s Near Miss Project found people who maintained an average of under 8mph reported three times as many near misses per miles than those with an average of over 12mph. Findings suggested close passes are particularly a problem for women, who on average cycle more slowly than men, and experienced a 50 per cent higher rate of near misses than men. The report is available for download at: http://www.nearmiss.bike/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Nearmissreport-final-web-2.pdf 
  4. Cycling UK, as part of the walking and cycling alliance has been calling for Government to bring about five changes to make our roads safer for pedestrians and people on bikes; of which this announcement addresses the first. Safety: revise the Highway Code to improve safety for people walking and cycling, particularly at junctions.

    ​The remaining four are:

    • Speed: reduce default speed limits to 20 mph for most roads in built-up areas and 40 mph for most minor rural roads;
    • Space: adopt and ensure consistent application of existing ‘best-in-class’ infrastructure design standards;
    • Priority: prohibit pavement parking to create safer and more accessible streets;
    • Culture: provide cycle training for all primary and secondary school children, and embed a culture of walking and cycling throughout the school curriculum

The Walking and Cycling Alliance is a coalition of the UK’s leading walking and cycling organisations of the Bicycle Association, Cycling UK, the Ramblers, British Cycling, Living Streets and Sustrans.

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