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New Highway Code shows contempt for cycling and safety

Road safety minister Stephen Ladyman has
laid the new Highway Code before Parliament. If not contested by
MPs or Lords, it will be approved within 40 days.

The new Code will require cyclists to use
cycle facilities ‘wherever possible’, irrespective of the
consequences for their safety. Similarly cyclists will continue
to be recommended to ride around the outside of roundabouts, in
the place where conflict is most likely. The rule that they
‘should’ wear a cycle helmet is also retained.

70% of the 4,000 public responses to the
draft Code came from cyclists, and there were as many responses
from cycling organisations (41 responses) as from local
authorities and road safety organisations together. Despite
this, the Government has chosen to ignore completely the clear
concerns expressed about the impact of the new rules on cycling
safety, and the almost certain increase in counter-claims of
contributory negligence that will arise when cyclists are
injured.

From the outset Ladyman has refused to
meet with the cycling organisations to discuss the draft
document. However, there were more promising ‘leaks’ from civil
servants that there would be changes. We were also told that the
new Code would not be ready before 2008. Cyclists can now
rightly feel aggrieved that they have been deceived and that
prejudices and ignorance have ridden rough-shod over
considerations about their safety.

CCN, CTC and other cycling organisations
are now considering their options, but will need the support of
cyclists throughout the UK to overturn this travesty, as we
must. In the meantime, please encourage cyclists once more to
contribute to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund and if you are likely
to meet with your MP for other reasons, please make him or her
aware of your concerns.

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