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Why CTC challenged the latest version of the Highway Code

Roger Geffen's picture
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We all know of examples of where cycle facilities end dangerously, throwing you out into heavy traffic. So when new wording for the Highway Code suggested that cyclists should always use such facilities, we - along with thousands of CTC members - were up in arms.
Bad cycle facility
Bad cycle facility (Graham Smith)

The Code's draft wording advised cyclists to "...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 journey safer."

We felt that this advice, if accepted, would reinforce the erroneous belief that cycle facilities are essentially safety features.

In our experience,  too many cycle facilities are far from safe, so  expecting people to use them as a matter of course and in the interests of  their own 'safety', is ill-advised.  Some off-carriageway routes, for example, may cause more problems than they solve.

What's more, the draft wording would have meant that the use of cycle facilities would no longer be discretionary for cyclists wishing to protect themselves against the threat of adverse legal action or accusations of 'contributory negligence' should they be injured whilst riding on a nearby 'non-facility' by choice.

Unfortunately, the concept that many experienced cyclists regard the road as the safest place for them was counter-intuitive to some officials and ministers, so CTC's battle over this proposed wording was far from straightforward.

The Code now makes it clear beyond all doubt that cyclists are not obliged to use cycle facilities where it would be unsafe to do so.

Result!

Following sustained and concerted lobbying, actively backed by thousands of CTC's members and supporters, the Code now makes it clear beyond all doubt that cyclists are not obliged to use cycle facilities where it would be unsafe to do so. This is highly significant and very welcome.

What Rules 61 and 63 now say:

"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."

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  • Patron: Her Majesty The Queen
  • President: Jon Snow
  • Chief Executive: Carol McKinley (Acting)
  • Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC): A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no.25185. Registered as a charity in England and Wales No 1147607 and in Scotland No SC042541

 

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