Today’s discussion of the new Highway Code changes has certainly fired up a lively debate in the comments and in our inbox, tangential chats about leg shaving aside (that’s for another day…).
While this is a debate that will certainly rumble on, here is a selection of some of your thoughts so far:
Those that oppose the changes to the Highway Code now: what exactly were they doing when the consultation was going on? If somebody is suggesting that Cycling UK have hijacked the agenda, how did they let that happen? They must have been fast asleep. I haven't heard anybody say, "I opposed these changes at the consultation stage". If you didn't oppose it at the correct stage, then jog on.
The Surrey police comment nails it, as always. A safe overtake will generally mean crossing the centre line. Which is why it is irrelevant if cyclists are in a row, two abreast or riding in the middle of the road. If you can't see clearly to overtake then don't do it. The only person putting anyone in danger is the driver who decides to overtake when they can't see that the way ahead is clear. I don't know why people find this complicated.
I have been having a look at the new Highway Code rules themselves rather than just reading the press. A lot of the changes seem to be common sense, revolving around being aware of other road users. They do, however, seem to be ‘urban centric’ and have not really been thought out with respect to country lanes.
I live on the Kent No. 1 cycle route, and as such we get a fair number of cyclists, particularly at weekends. The lanes where I am are single track with passing places. No footpaths and plenty of potholes. There are typically high hedges on both sides of the road, and lots of tight, blind bends. Most of the time it is impossible to overtake cyclists safely because the road is simply not wide enough unless they stop at one of the passing places, as we do in cars. Cycling at any speed down the middle of these lanes, particularly approaching bends, is potentially suicidal, since just out of sight could be a tractor, a delivery truck taking up the whole road, horses, or indeed other cyclists. Nonetheless, we often see, and quite often barely miss, cyclists two or three abreast doing just that.
I'm naturally risk averse. When I first started cycling, whenever I came in to conflict with other road users I would check the highway code along with other advice (e.g. Bikeability). The conclusion was always the same: I can't change what other road users do, I can only affect my own behaviour. Largely, that meant staying away from shared use paths and, importantly, taking greater control of the lane - riding in primary (especially when the highway code recommends that drivers don't overtake) and moving in to position early when approaching junctions. If this pisses some drivers off they only have their own behaviour to blame.
With the changes to the Highway Code that comes into effect next week, I believe too much responsibility is placed on the motorist. Cyclists and pedestrians don't have to abide by the highway code or even understand it. Let's level up to playing field a bit, get all road users – this includes cyclist – to take a test so that they understand when they are breaking the law. For instance,a motorist can only overtake a cyclist if there is about 2 metres clearance, but a cyclist can undertake close enough to knock your wing mirror.
Come on let's have a level playing field where we are all responsible, and if you are going to fine the motorist, fine cyclists and pedestrians alike.
This is health and safety gone mad. I'd like to see the results of the Risk Assessments carried out on these new rules.
Jake Stewart is wrong, and cycling in the UK is moving in the right direction; slowly, almost imperceptibly, but things are changing, which is why the old guard petrol heads feel threatened.
We have to keep the pressure up by challenging politicians to actually implement those nice shiny policies they've approved, not just leave them gathering dust on the shelves. If you don't already do it, get in touch with your local campaign group to find out how you can help and email your councillors and MP demanding resources for cycling.
I disagree, cycling in the UK is not moving in the right direction, in my experience anyway. Close passes are now so frequent I am gradually finding quieter and quieter roads for my road bike, or riding my mtb off road more and more. When my buddies go out at the weekend, if they choose Saturday instead of Sunday, I'll decline. If they choose Saturday PM instead of AM, I'll decline. None of them commute though, so none of them ride at the "worst" time of the day. And this is rural Sussex, not central London or any other big city.
But how many times does a news article about cycling descend into a slanging match about road tax and red lights? Why do ALL drivers seem to think it is they alone who pay for roads?
It's good that Jake Stewart is speaking up.
The same people who abuse us and put us in danger when we ride bikes very likely cheer on British racing cyclists. So if the British riders speak up, they can make a difference.
I take an optimistic view and all this publicity will at least make drivers more likely to think about cyclists.
Oh, and turns out waving is still a fundamental part of cycling culture. Just not in cities, and especially not in Oxford...