The Department for Transport (DfT) has updated its response to a petition calling for a public awareness campaign to address driver aggression towards cyclists. While a paragraph has been added to the top to say the DfT "doesn’t consider that a campaign along the lines specifically requested by this petition is necessary", it does now say that the department's THINK! campaign will be developing a behavioural change campaign.
The petition, started by Helen-Louise Smith, said: "The attitude that cyclists should not be on the roads needs to end."
It called for motorists to be educated about 'dangerous, inappropriate and aggressive behaviours that can lead to the injury and even death of cyclists.'
After the petition reached 10,000 signatures last month, the government responded; however the Petitions Committee requested "a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition", after which this update was added on 13 July: "The Department for Transport is already reviewing The Highway Code to improve cyclist safety and doesn’t consider that a campaign along the lines specifically requested by this petition is necessary."
The rest of the response, published here, says: "The Government is focused on making cycling and walking safer and easier.
"To that end the Department for Transport undertook a major cycling and walking safety review in 2018.
"Following an extensive public consultation, the Department published its full response and a detailed two-year action plan on 22 November 2018.
"One of the actions identified was to review The Highway Code to create a new and improved Highway Code, to keep vulnerable road users - including cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders - safe on the roads and make sure they are at the forefront of motorists’ minds when they are travelling.
"For example, the proposed changes highlight how to avoid the dangers of close passing, and encourage people to adopt the ‘Dutch reach’, a method of opening a car door with the hand furthest from the handle, to force drivers to look over their shoulder for passing traffic.
"On the 28 July 2020, the Prime Minister launched ambitious plans to boost cycling and walking and the consultation on changes to The Highway Code was published at the same time as part of a much broader plan into Cycling and Walking.
"The proposed changes should lead to a new and improved Highway Code, to keep vulnerable road users safe on the roads.
"The consultation closed on 28 October 2020; over 20,000 responses were received, and we are currently undertaking a full analysis of all replies."
The DfT say that a summary of responses to the consultation on the changes, including the 'next steps' will be published 'shortly'.
The department went on to say it 'recognised the important role education has in keeping vulnerable road users safe'.
The updated final paragraphs referring to the Department's THINK! campaign now says: "The Department for Transport recognises the important role education has in keeping vulnerable road users safe on the roads and the Department’s THINK! campaign aims to change the attitudes and behaviours behind key road safety issues, via marketing campaigns, online resources and THINK! social media channels.
"THINK! will be developing a behavioural change campaign to support implementation of these changes to The Highway Code and the overarching aims of these changes."
The petition now has 19,382 signatures and if it reaches 100,000 signatures before 16 December 2021, it will be considered for debate in parliament.