A new survey has revealed that one in three cyclists feel unsafe on UK roads despite changes to the Highway Code aimed at protecting vulnerable road users coming into force last January, with the insurer that commissioned the poll calling on the government to step up communication of the new rules to all road users.
Cycleplan sent a survey to 5,392 of its UK policyholders in April, quizzing them on issues including their understanding of the changes made to the Highway Code, which covers England, Scotland and Wales (Northern Ireland has its own version of the code, which has not been updated as yet).
Changes included recommending that drivers leave at least 1.5 metres space when overtaking people on bikes, new rules for using junctions, and the introduction of a hierarchy of road users aimed at protecting the most vulnerable.
In its survey, the insurer highlighted earlier research conducted by the AA among 13,000 of its own members in January which found that 33 per cent of them were unaware of the changes that were due to come into effect later that month.
According to Cycleplan, 55 per cent of its survey respondents were not surprised at that level of the lack of awareness among drivers regarding the changes, and 25 per cent thought that the AA poll probably understated the ignorance of the new rules among all motorists (as we’ve pointed out before, members of the AA and other motoring organisations are likely to be more engaged with issues such as changes to the law if only because they will have been alerted to them through regular communications such as newsletters or emails).
One in three of Cycleplan’s survey respondents – 33 per cent – said that they had been involved in a collision or near miss within the past 12 months, and 79 per cent said that they believed that drivers were not observing the Highway Code changes.
Calling on the government to launch a full campaign to publicise the changes, Cycleplan said: “From our report, we can conclude that while the Highway Code changes rolled out on 29 January 2022 are ideal on paper, they are failing to serve their purpose when put into practice.
“Here at Cycleplan, we feel confident that this is largely due to the changes having not been properly enforced or publicised.
“Our report provides solid evidence to support this theory. While most UK cyclists claimed to be aware the Highway Code was being updated, many revealed themselves to be unaware of the changes and, therefore, a risk to themselves and other road users.
“An AA poll found that 86% of motorists don’t re-read the Highway Code, further supporting the idea that a major public safety campaign is needed to ensure road users are fully aware of the changes and able to abide by them.”
Campaigners including Cycling UK have been calling on the government to run a sustained, long-term and broad-reaching campaign to publicise the new rules, and in June we reported how a separate survey of 2,000 drivers by Vertu Motors found that less than half of the drivers questioned were able to name a single change that came into force in January.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.