The Highway Code changes were back in the spotlight again today after an article on the Daily Express' website, in which Paul Biggs from the Alliance of British Drivers demanded cyclists take a test to use the roads.
Despite the story claiming Biggs is a "keen leisure cyclist", the representitive for the voluntary organisation that promotes the interests and concerns of Britain's drivers, said it was "bizarre untrained cyclists are still allowed on the roads."
"It seems crazy to allow cyclists on the roads with no requirement to have at least passed a cycling proficiency test or to have even read the Highway Code," Biggs said.
"If the government are genuinely interested in cycling safety, then it's bizarre that untrained cyclists are still allowed on the roads."
The news site then shared messages from readers on social media supporting the calls for an official test for cyclists to be allowed on the road, although some did suggest motorists be required to complete cycling experience as part of the driving test.
Biggs commented that 15 to 20 per cent of cyclists had never passed a driving test or Highway Code theory test, words which were published alongside figures from Avaris Bikes explaining there were 12,252 crashes 'involving a car and cycle' in London since 2019.
The Express story set the scene for the calls, saying: "Cyclists are currently not required to take a test or learn the Highway Code to be on the roads. This is despite cyclists being placed with pedestrians at the top of the new ‘hierarchy of road users’ which has led to some cyclists riding three abreast down the middle of the road."
Within the article a clip from Good Morning Britain featuring TalkRadio presenter Mike Graham slamming the Highway Code changes was included.
During Graham's rant he says giving priority to cyclists at roundabouts is "a recipe for disaster", and claims that cyclists are being encouraged to ride "three abreast slowly in front of cars".
Before finally adding: "Let's not forget we've spent tens of millions of pounds, hundreds of millions, probably, creating cycle lanes for cyclists to be able to ride safely in lockdown [...]
"They're now saying they want room back on the rest of the road that we are all squeezed onto, and that's why people are rushing around so much because congestion has actually increased as a result of this mad dash to turn everybody into a cyclist."
At the heart of the revised Highway Code is the 'Hierachy of Road Users':
A concept that places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy. The hierarchy does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly. The road users most likely to be injured in the event of a collision are pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists, with children, older adults and disabled people being more at risk
Regarding Graham's comments about cyclists being told to ride "three abreast slowly in front of cars", the Highway Code actually states:
Be considerate of the needs of other road users when riding in groups. You can ride two abreast and it can be safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders. Be aware of drivers behind you and allow them to overtake (for example, by moving into single file or stopping) when you feel it is safe to let them do so
It is not the first time the changes have been misrepresented or criticised by the national press.
> Press misrepresents Highway Code changes – just days before they come into force
Days before the changes came into force the Express ran with, "POLL: Do you support new fine for opening car with wrong hand as cyclists given priority?" in reference to the advised Dutch Reach method of opening your vehicle's door.
The truth is it was already an offence to open a car door, or cause or permit it to be opened, so as to cause injury, punishable by a maximum fine of £1,000.
It is not a new law and drivers who do not use the Dutch Reach technique will not be fined, unless they commit the aforementioned existing offence.
I think the 'mountain' bit is the really dodgy bit of the name.
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