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Obey! Transport minister tells cyclists to follow Highway Code… well, he asks leaders of cycling organisations to tell them for him

Letters are presumably in the post to the AA, RAC, Road Haulage Association, Freight Transport Association, etc

Transport Minister Jesse Norman has asked cycling organisations to remind their members to follow the Highway Code, less than 48 hours after announcing a review on whether dangerous and careless cycling offences should be introduced.

Norman has written to British Cycling, Cycling UK, the Bicycle Association, Sustrans, and Chris Boardman and Will Norman, Cycling and Walking Commissioners for Greater Manchester, and London, respectively, asking for their help highlighting the rules relating to cycling, including use of equipment, clothing and the use of lanes and crossings to their networks.

Norman’s letter, which directly references the recent case in which Kim Briggs died following a collision with cyclist Charlie Alliston, has prompted ire from cycling groups, who question whether Norman has written to motoring groups on the issue, given the relatively greater risk posed by motor vehicles. 

Government announces cycle safety review in wake of Alliston case

“I am writing to you following the tragic death of Mrs Kim Briggs to ask for your help in highlighting the importance of cyclists adhering to the rules set out in the Highway Code.” Writes Norman, who is MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire.

“The Highway Code clearly sets out rules for cyclists including on equipment clothing and use of lanes and crossings. It states that every pedal cycle must have efficient brakes and meet the applicable legal requirements”.

Norman also refers to the more detailed information set out in the Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983, which states bicycles must have independent working front and rear brakes.

The cycling review was launched in response “to a series of high profile incidents involving cyclists”, including the case in which cyclist Charlie Alliston was this week sentenced to 18 months in a young offenders’ institution for the death of pedestrian Kim Briggs when the pair collided in London’s Old Street in February 2016.  

Roger Geffen, Cycling UK Policy Director, told "We're responding robustly behind the scenes to the DfT."

Cycling UK would not be drawn further on the matter. 

Cycling organisations, such as British Cycling and Cycling UK, already promote safe cycling among their members, and critics would question whether the response to the Alliston case from the Department for Transport has been fair and proportionate. According to the Department for Transport’s own statistics, 1732 people were killed on UK roads in 2015, and 22,137 seriously injured. Cyclists, by contrast, account for around two deaths per year, on average.

Some have asked whether the RAC, AA and driving instructors have been contacted on the issue, given the respective risk motor vehicles pose on the roads.

Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign tweeted the letter today, commenting: “Unprecedented ministerial action after 2 cycle related deaths. Awaiting 750 times this much effort to address the 1500+ motor-related deaths.”

In 2014 Chris Grayling, the then Justice Secretary, who is now Transport Secretary, promised a review into sentencing policy in relation to convictions for the offences of causing death by dangerous driving. Despite more than 22 requests from Cycling UK and Parliamentarians since then the review, nor any legislation, have not been forthcoming.

The Highway Code, where it relates to cyclists, covers legal obligations such as the use of lights at night and reflectors fitted to the bike. It also advises cyclists to wear a cycle helmet and wear light coloured, reflective or fluorescent clothing, though this is not the law.  There is also a section on road users requiring extra care, which Norman says “aims to educate and remind drivers of the needs of more vulnerable road users, such as cyclists”.

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