Previously, drivers have only been required to stop when a pedestrian is either at a zebra crossing, or when all cars have stopped at a red light. Well, with newly released changes to the Highway Code, pedestrians and cyclists were given higher priority over cars at junctions and crossings, as announced by the Department for Transport.
The new rules, which were published late January, amount to nine updated sections and 50 added or amended rules and will require cars to give pedestrians and cyclists the right of way when they are crossing, or waiting to cross at a junction.
Furthermore, these rules will also allow cyclists to ride in the centre of their lane, though this only applies to quiet roads with slow-moving traffic, or when they’re approaching junctions. The Department for Transport claims that this is to make cyclists more visible, in order to reduce the amount of accidents, however, others have argued that this would cause more traffic on the roads. Not only have speed limits been reduced for most roads, but now cyclists are required to ride in the middle of them, making it more difficult to overtake and increasing the amount of traffic jams.
Plus the “Hierarchy of Road Users” will ensure that car drivers have the most responsibility in reducing the danger they pose to cyclists and pedestrians.
Driving through Cardiff especially, you’ll see massive bike lanes that take up half the road, and it’s the same throughout London. So not only have they got their own lanes in most places, but now they have priority over cars on the actual road.
Do these new rules mean that the purpose of zebra crossings have become obsolete? And are we now going to be teaching children, who may be walking home from school, that they don’t need to wait for the traffic light to turn red, or for the lollipop man to stop the cars, and that they can just cross wherever they feel like? The whole thing looks like a recipe for disaster.
In 2020, accident rates among cyclists resulted in 4,215 serious injuries, 11,938 slight injuries, and 140 fatalities due to traffic collisions with motor vehicles. There were also 386 fatalities involing pedestrians and motor vehicles. Additionally, a survey conducted by YouGov revealed that 49% of Britons had heard little to nothing about these new changes, which could lead to potentially bigger problems down the road as someone could walk out in front of a car thinking they’d stop, when the driver (who will be forced to take full responsibility due to the “hierarchy of road users”) has no idea of the new changes to the Highway code.
The new changes caused backlash from a number of motorist pressure groups, most notably, the Alliance of British Drivers, FairFuelUK, and the Motorcycle Action group, who have come together to form a campaign, operating under the name, Voters for Motors, in order to stop the proposed amendments to the highway code.
Drivers have also been complaining about the new changes, with rows breaking out on Twitter between drivers who are claiming that these rules amount to cyclists “taking over the roads.”
A spokesman for ABD said: “Our concerns over the Highway Code include the fact that encouraging the undertaking and overtaking of vehicles intending to turn by cyclists will cause more crashes that drivers will be blamed for under the new ‘hierarchy of road users.”