Highway code

The Government is planning on re-writing the Highway code. With this in mind over the next few weeks I'm going to write what I think it should say, from a cyclists point of view. So lets start with 45-66 the Rules for Cyclists

Here is the existing Rule 45:

45: Clothing. You should wear

  • a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations

  • appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights

  • light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light

  • reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark.

Image of cyclists wearing incorrect and correct clothing for cycling

Help yourself to be seen

The “should” in the text means that this is just advice. I would remove the cycle helmet advice. Cycle helmets are useless in a Car V Bike accident and those are the ones that kill cyclists. I even have some concerns about the reflective clothing. Drivers should not be driving so close to the limit that they need other road users to be lit up like a Christmas tree. However despite my misgivings I would leave it in, but with a caveat that not wearing such cloths should not be used as mitigation for poor driving. So my Rule 45 would be:

45: Clothing.

  • Wear appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights

  • Light-coloured or fluorescent clothing will help other road users to see you in daylight and poor light

  • Reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) will help other road users see you in the dark.

Now rule 46:

46: At night your cycle MUST have front and rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen.
Law RVLR regs 18 & 24

I would drop the pedal reflector law. While it is possible for upright cycles, even with clipless pedals to comply so few do as to make this pointless. What is more recumbent bicycles can't comply. The orientation of the pedals makes this impossible. Now that flashing lights are allowed the lighting advice becomes more complex.

46: At night your cycle MUST have front and rear lights lit. These can be flashing lights as long as they flash no faster than 3 times a second and no less than once a second. However if riding on unlit roads you are advised to have a steady front light to see by. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector. White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen.

More rules later on.

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Comments:

In South Australia it is mandatory to wear a helmet while cycling. At first I resisted this law and thought the same as you have written. However, consider the imapact of hitting your head on the road/gutter/car when not wearing a helmet vs. wearing a helmet. A minor accident can easily result in brain damage if your not wearing a helmet. These days I feel a uneasy and vulnerable when not wearing one.

Posted by Shaun on September 25, 2005 at 09:50 PM BST #

The evidence does not support the wearing of helmets. They at best have no effect on injury rates and at worst make them worse.

What is absolutly certain is that they deter people from cycling and divert attention from the real dangers, which are motor vehicles.

As an ex helmet wearer and advocate I found reading the research very illuminating. See http://www.cyclehelmets.org/mf.html#1021

The fact that you feel uneasy when not wearing a helmet would make me worry that you are compensating when wearing one.

Posted by Chris Gerhard on September 26, 2005 at 06:17 AM BST #

Hi, I also enjoyed reading the Key points in: http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_rdsafety/documents/page/dft_rdsafety_507998-11.hcsp BTW. living in Holland for 5 years, i don't wear a helmet for daily rides. Do wear a helmet for training rides. Love bike lanes. Love the way the public know how to use them. But most of all, I appreciate the way car drivers are trained in bike awareness! :)

Posted by Phil on September 27, 2005 at 09:05 AM BST #

Hi, I'm not sure where you get your information about helmets and injury rates but I fail to see how wearing a helmet can make injury rates go up. But thats ok. I just did a quick google and found the following site in case your interested. http://www.bhsi.org/stats.htm I'm not saying this information is completely accurate but I imagine its reasonable. FWIW, I have taken all my cycling activities off road now. So cars are no longer my main safety concern. Happy cycling.

Posted by Shaun on October 04, 2005 at 06:10 PM BST #

Yup I've seen those stats before. And the estimate of the effectiveness of bicycle helmets is just laughable. If cycle helmets were effective we would have seen a decrease in deaths and injuries with there increased use, but we have not. Why?

That is the question that many would like answered.

Take a look at http://www.cyclehelmets.org which I would argue offers a more balanced view. Oddly it was looking at the statistics that stopped me believing that cycle helmets are a good thing and finally allowed me to stop wearing mine.

The only thing cycle helmets do is decrease the number of people cycling. Since in the western world being sedantary is far more dangerous than cycling this would seem like a very bad idea.

Posted by Chris Gerhard on October 05, 2005 at 10:31 AM BST #

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This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to http://chrisgerhard.wordpress.com

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