Saturday Sep 29, 2007

New Highway code published.

It is finally out. It still contains the victim blaming sections on wearing “bright” cloths and the ridiculous helmet suggestions (rule 59), and the very bad advice about cycling around roundabouts (rule 77). At least the sections on cycle paths are better than the original suggestions (rules 61 & 63).

There is a small furore about rule 148 which appears to ban Smoking while driving, which IMO is a good thing, if you are controlling a ton of metal then you should concentrate on controlling the vehicle so that you do not present a danger to other road users, which includes pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists. Luckily the smoking lobby was not as good as the cycling lobby when the Highway code was in it's consultation phase.

One thing I can't grasp is why the URL has changed from the easy to remember http://www.highwaycode.gov.uk to the not so easy http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/index.htm. I just hope they leave the redirection inplace.

Wednesday May 30, 2007

Highway Code Success

Success. Well at first glance this appears to be success. According to the CTC the Department for Motorists Transport have agreed to change the wording of 40 of the rules in the new Highway code including the notorious Cycle lane rules. Here is what the CTC claim the new rules will be:

Rule 61: Cycle Facilities. Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

Rule 63: Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway. When using a cycle lane, keep within the lane when practicable. When leaving a cycle lane check before pulling out that it is safe to do so and signal your intention clearly to other road users. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

Now the CTC are claiming that this is “Following a high-profile campaign from CTC” which is a bizarre way to describe a campaign driven by the internet and the Cambridge Cycling Campaign where the CTC has been almost silent. I'm thinking of joining the Cambridge Cycling Campaign even though I live in Surrey.

I look forward to seeing the other rules that have been improved. I wonder if the Helmet advice has been dropped as well. I live in hope but not expectation. Still the cycle facility rules, if true, are actually better than the old rules in the code. Fancy that, the code actually getting better.

Anyway the CTC are still asking people to sign the petition so if you have not yet please join the 20,856 who have.

Cycle path video

There is still time to sign the petition and write to your MP about the new Highway code which will effectively make it illegal to not use a cycle path when possible.

For those who are not familiar with the state of cycle paths check your this video. It would be possible for a cyclist not using that “cycle path” or any other to be prosecuted for inconsiderate cycling. Even the most leisurely cyclist would find that one a challenge.

Saturday May 19, 2007

Highway Code in the Telegraph

The growing publicity around the disgraceful update to the Highway code hits the Daily Telegraph today (I was forwarded this, I have not suddenly started reading the Torygraph).

Given Robin's dissection of the inability of our elected members to understand their own legislation I should not be surprised that the Department for transport can't see a significant difference between “wherever practicable” and “wherever possible”. Although by focusing on this they misrepresent the concerns of cyclists that even “wherever practicable” too prescriptive.

As I have said before I would prefer the Highway code to warn cyclists of the dangers of using Cycle paths both dedicated and shared use and make it clear they are not intended for cyclists doing more than 30km/h according to the DfT's own design specifications. Also warn cyclists about the feeder lanes into Advanced Stop Lines at traffic lights as they can put you on the inside of Lorries turning left, somewhere you never want to be.

Friday May 11, 2007

Write to your MP

There is still time to stop the attack on cycling via the Highway Code update. Write to your MP to get them to sign this Early day Motion.

Do it Today. Do it Now!

Sunday May 06, 2007

The Times reports the issues of the new Highway Code

The problems with the Highway Code for cyclists has hit the main stream media. From The Times online. This quote from a nameless official at the Department for Transport shows the problem:

The Highway Code has advised cyclists to use cycle facilities like cycle tracks since 1946,”

The concept that the advice it is giving and has been giving for 60 years might be bad advice never enters the conversation. The quotes from John Franklin, the author of cyclecraft, are to frightening if he is right:


Franklin also points out that rules controlling cyclists’ safety are in the hands of the Driving Standards Agency (which publishes the Highway Code) and the DfT. “As far as I know there is no one at the DfT’s road safety section who has any experience of cycling,” he says.

It is however completely believable that no one at the DfT or the Driving Standards Agency knows anything about cycling.


Similar to the folks at work who look after the campus. What they know about cycling can be found on their nonexistent blog yet they tell us that the suicide cycle paths are safe and have had a “professional” do a risk assessment to show this, a risk assessment they refuse to share with the cyclists. Sorry I was starting to rant.....

Saturday May 05, 2007

At last the CTC comments on the Highway code.

At last something from the CTC about the attack on cycling being undertaken by the Drivers Standards agency: from the weekly newsletter they will email their members from the 4th May 2007 edition:
Battle continues for cyclist-friendly Highway Code
A revised draft of the Highway Code has not properly addressed the concerns of 11,000 cyclists who last year joined our campaign to have the Code re-worded. The original draft told cyclists to ‘use cycle facilities…where provided’. Following our campaigning efforts, the revised wording, issued on 28th March, reads: ‘Use cycle routes and cycle facilities…wherever possible, as they can make your journey safer.’ The new wording does not address our original concern that insurance companies will use the wording of the new Code as an excuse to reduce the amount of compensation they pay if a motorist hits a cyclist that has chosen to use a road rather than a nearby cycle facility. We very much hope that the Government will see sense and amend the wording to say “use cycle facilities where they help with your journey” – thus leaving the decision at the cyclist’s discretion. If it does not, we will seek to persuade the Lords to vote it out, or may ultimately initiate a Judicial Review against it.
We would like to hear about incidents where a cyclist has been injured while using a cycle facility, or has suffered verbal or physical abuse, or hassle from the police, as a result of using the road rather than a nearby cycle facility. Please email adam.coffman@ctc.org.uk

I would again urge anyone who rides a bike in the U.K. To sign the petition and more importantly write to your MP about this.

Monday Apr 23, 2007

Drivers Standards Agency continues it's attack on cycling

The Drivers Standards Agency have now produce the revised Highway Code following the consultation. 70% of the returns (see page 4 of the report on the consultation) were from cyclists and the most contentious changes were about the new wordings of rules related to cycling. So the Drivers Standards Agency have continued their attack on cyclists by making the wordings even worse for cyclists.

Rule 61 for example in the previous draft said:
Use cycle routes when practicable and cycle facilities such as advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings where they are provided, as they can make your journeys safer.

The objection being that the definition of practicable allows an argument that any time you are not using one of these facilities you could be held as negligent if there is an accident. Here is what they say in the report on the consultation (page7):


It was felt that other road users needed to be made aware that the choice to use these facilities remains with the cyclist, and there is no law forcing their use. The phrasing of the rule has therefore been amended to take this into account. The standard of cycle routes remains the responsibility of the relevant highway authorities and so falls outside the remit of The Highway Code.

So they have change the rule to be:


Use cycle routes and cycle facilities such as advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings wherever possible as they can make your journeys safer.

So they have removed any doubt about where you should cycle. You should take cycle facility if it is possible. Even if it more dangerous, does not go where you are going, is less convenient, slower or badly maintained.


Meanwhile the CTC has been strangely silent on the issue, which considering that they encouraged so many to take part in the

I urge anyone who rides a bike or cares about cyclists to sign the petition here and write to your MP before it is too late. I confess I don't hold up much hope that the Department for Motorists Transport will listen as this would not help drive cyclists off the road.

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Wednesday May 10, 2006

Cycling Debate in the House of Commons

It would appear that all the lobbying of MPs about the revision to the Highway Code is having an effect. Yesterday there was a debate about Cycling started by Mark Lazarowicz MP (Edinburgh, North and Leith). All of the comments seemed to be positive for cyclists. (see hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/cm060509/halltext/60509h03.htm#column_24WH.

There was so much that was good however I particularly liked:

Mark Lazarowicz: Does my hon. Friend agree that a short stretch of cycle lane can be extremely dangerous in that, at the end of the lane, the act of joining the main route puts the cyclist at much greater risk than if they had not entered the cycle lane in the first place?
Charlotte Atkins: That is absolutely right. The point at which a cyclist joins the rest of the traffic is a clear area of real danger, and the evidence shows that most accidents occur at junctions. Often, that is just because motorists do not see cyclists. It is vital that we change the culture in this country so that it is much more akin to that in France, where cyclists are noticed. In London, a critical mass of cyclists has been created, so motorists are more aware of cyclists there, but we have much more to do in other towns where cycling is not so prevalent.

And:


Emily Thornberry: Another problem is that we are victims of some of the wackier suggestions and criticisms that are levelled against us. Unfortunately, some of those come from another place. A recent suggestion was to ask the Government whether they would be willing to consider carefully whether
    “a new requirement that cyclists display on their clothing a clearly readable personal registration number and carry a registration card containing relevant information would confer benefits that outweighed the bureaucracy and costs that such a system would entail?”—[Official Report, House of Lords,27 April 2006; Vol. 681, c. 256.]
May I urge the Government to ignore that advice? It is crazy to suggest that cyclists should carry numbers on their clothing so that they could be identified, and it would be equally insulting and crazy to expect pedestrians to do that. Cyclists are a special class and we need support. We do not need that eccentric criticism.

Then Emily continues by putting the danger posed by cyclists into perspective:


There was also a suggestion in another place that 1,000 pedestrians in London were injured by cyclists last year. May I put an accurate defence of cyclists on the record? Last year, more pedestrians were hit and injured by mopeds than by bicycles. In 2004, one pedestrian was killed in a collision with a cyclist, but that is the only recent known death. Motor cyclists, of whom there are a similar number on the road as cyclists, killed 20 people and seriously injured another 200 last year. The number of direct pedestrian deaths caused by cars in the same year was 388, with another 5,000 people seriously injured and 20,000 moderately injured. On top of that, there were another 2,000 deaths on the road, all caused by motorised transport. It is a simple fact that the more cycling there is on the roads, the safer our roads become.

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Monday May 01, 2006

Highway Code Consultation

Only 10 days to get your comments about the new highway code in. I've just sent mine questioning the advice on helmets and that the new code is even more keen on cycle lanes and cycle paths despite the lack of evidence that they are safer than being in the road. Evidence that my personal experience mirrors. That is before we get onto the mixed message that is being sent to cyclists, ride on the pavement when there is a white line painted down it for your safety but when there is no white line you are safe on the road.

If you want to ride a bike, pedal cycle not motor bike, safely read Cyclecraft and the do as it says.

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Tuesday Feb 28, 2006

Highway Code Consultation

The consultation about the new Highway Code is out at last. It came as no surprise that there appears to be nothing positive in it for cyclists but what can you expect when it comes from the “Driving standards agency”. My favourite addition is this in Rule 63:

  • be aware of traffic coming up behind you

and what are you supposed to do? Vanish? I'm constantly aware of traffic coming up behind me mostly when it can't get passed safely (not that that always stops people trying). I can understand looking behind before turning right or filtering right or when approaching a junction where you may have to stop as you have to position yourself so that you claim your road space, but this just seems to be pointless advice. A cynic might suggest it has been added to allow drivers to run over cyclists from behind and then claim that the “cyclist was unaware of me” so it was not their fault. While I don't really think this is why they have added this is shows the extent that this cyclist feels that the rules of the road are not written to encourage cyclists, who need more not less protection from other road users. However this is not the worst.


The worst is this:


Use cycle routes where practicable and cycle facilities such as advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings where they are provided, as they can make your journeys safer.


Note the can, not do. The thing about this is that most cycle routes and facilities are actually more dangerous for the cyclists, impractical to use unless you are ready to dismount very regularly and accept the additional risks that they pose. I'm sure there must be a good one somewhere I have however yet to find it. Since 95% of accidents happen at junctions and cycle routes and paths tend to increase the number of junctions amnd then place the cyclists in a place where drivers don't expect vehicles to be this suddenly does not suprise. Again this will offer a get out for motorists who run over cyclists simply say that they there was a cycle “facility” that was available.


So I am completing the feedback using StarOffice8 and will send it back to them as both a doc and a Open Document.


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Monday Sep 26, 2005

Highway Code Rules 47 -49

Rules 47-49 cover cycle routes, tracks and lanes. I've yet to find a cycle track that would be sensible to use. Most accidents involving cyclists occur a junctions, but cycle routes and lanes generally increase the number of junctions and places where the cyclist will be in conflict with other traffic and pedestrians. This expains why cycle lanes are actually more dangerous than roads. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycle_lane and http://www.lesberries.co.uk/cycling/infra/infra.html . So these rules:

47: Use cycle routes when practicable. They can make your journey safer.

48: Cycle Tracks. These are normally located away from the road, but may occasionally be found alongside footpaths or pavements. Cyclists and pedestrians may be segregated or they may share the same space (unsegregated). When using segregated tracks you MUST keep to the side intended for cyclists. Take care when passing pedestrians, especially children, elderly or disabled people, and allow them plenty of room. Always be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary.
Law HA 1835 sect 72

49: Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway (see Rule 119). Keep within the lane wherever possible.

Would be reducede to this:

47: Great care should be exercised when using cycle lanes, paths and tracks. Be especially careful as at junctions as you will no longer be where other vehicles expect you to be. Be aware of driveways that cross the cycle route. Be very careful of pedestrians that can change direction suddenly. Be aware of dogs. Do not feel you have to cycle on cycle lanes when there is a perfectly good road. Do not even consider using cycle paths if you are intending to travel at more than 12mph.

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Sunday Sep 25, 2005

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

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