GENERAL NEWS

PROPOSED HIGHWAY CODE CHANGES AND HOW THEY MAY AFFECT MOTORCYCLISTS

IN AN ATTEMPT TO CHANGE HOW PEOPLE TRAVEL, THE GOVERNMENT HAS SUGGESTED ALTERING THE HIGHWAY CODE PRIORITIES

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The idea of the possible Highway Code changes, if they are accepted and become law, seem to be to restructure road use to favour less polluting vehicles and to encourage more walking, cycling and even motorcycling over car and heavy goods traffic. This should hopefully reduce pollution and road traffic by encouraging people to get out of their cars and try alternative modes of transportation. In order to achieve this end, the government have proposed some changes to the Highway Code. It's more about the priority of road use, with groups the government want to encourage moved to the top of the hierarchy to have the most advantages.

The stated objectives are as follows:
  • Introducing a hierarchy of road users which ensures that those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others
  • Clarifying existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements and that drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road
  • Establishing guidance on safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking cyclists or horse riders, and ensuring that they have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead

If the new 'Rule H1' is adopted, it will have this suggested hierarchy of road use:
  1. Pedestrians
  2. Cyclists
  3. Horse Riders
  4. Motorcyclists
  5. Cars/Taxis
  6. Vans/Minibuses

At the moment the rule is awaiting approval in parliament and will be looked at when MPs are back after their summer break. Its aim is to look at which road users are the most dangerous to others and put the most restrictions on them, giving priority to the most vulnerable road users to ensure overall safety.
The Department of Transport states that:
Car drivers will be responsible for ensuring cyclists are safe, while cyclists will be responsible for looking out for pedestrians” although this “does not remove the need for all road users to behave responsibly.

There will now be some advice as well on how much space cyclists should be given when vehicles are overtaking them and the plan states that cyclists will get priority at junctions. The list also makes it clear that motorcyclists will be recognised as more vulnerable on the roads than car drivers, and get priority over four wheeled traffic – surely good news.

These are some of the key proposed points in the new document:
Give motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211 to 215). As a guide:
  • Leave a minimum distance of 1.5 metres at speeds under 30 mph
  • Leave a minimum distance of 2.0 metres at speeds over 30 mph
  • For a large vehicle, leave a minimum distance of 2.0 metres in all conditions
  • Pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 15 mph and allow at least 2.0 metres space
  • Allow at least 2.0 metres space where a pedestrian is walking in the road (e.g. where there is no pavement) and you should pass them at low speed
  • You should wait behind the motorcyclist, cyclist, horse rider, horse drawn vehicle or pedestrian and not overtake if it is unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances
  • Take extra care and give more space when overtaking motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and pedestrians in bad weather (including high winds) and at night

It is worth remembering thought that all this is still currently in the proposal stage, although it does looks very likely to come in once MPs get back to work. It may be as well, that the government will have to do a publicity campaign to get the information out to everyone as only those doing their test tend to learn the Highway Code and, dare we say, it is never looked at again after that perhaps, no? When did you last get yours out for a bit of bedtime reading?

What do you think then? Do you welcome these changes? It does seem as though motorcyclists have been factored in and are going to be given a bit more consideration on the roads. What is your experience of riding your bike on British roads? Do you find that drivers move over for you and give you priority in traffic or is it just everyone for themselves out there in the urban jungle in your opinion.

Let us know your thoughts on riding today and on the new proposed Highway Code changes at: news@wemoto.com or drop us a message on Facebook. news@wemoto.com or on Facebook

Posted by Lucy England
for Wemoto News on 05 August 2021 in General News

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