17 May 2007

UK Highway Code revision- Tories to force Lords debate

Part of Anne Main's response to my letter about Highway Code changes.

This is good news- but keep writing letters!

Anne also says:


STACC memsec Tom said...

Some clarification is needed.
Current (2004) edition of Highway Code states at Rule 47 "...use cycle routes wherever practicable..."
& Rule 49 - Cycle Lanes "...Keep within the lane wherever possible."
This was exactly the same in 1999 edition.
Much the same in 1993 edition where Rule 205 says "Use cycle tracks & lanes wherever possible..."
I recall that, way back, CTC took credit for getting the terminology changed from a more mandatory tone to "..where practicable..". (The thinking may have been that it would be easy to show impracticability - as the cyclist is the only one who can define it.)
Now it appears that CTC et al are attempting to get the wording softened further - no bad thing.
So we must deduce that CTC has encountered cases of reduced compensation awards over the last 14+ years, with the defendants citing the HC clauses.
CTC legal department needs to say if the wording has, in fact, led to lower compensation awards.
(I cannot get the new HC draft to download so I do not know the new wording.)
Anyway, I agree that all cyclists should have concern & subscribe to the petition.
Your own view may be that cyclists should be confined to lanes & tracks (no matter how inadequate they may be), however I urge you to think beyond your own current needs & act for all cyclists by signing up.

STACC memsec Tom said...

I emailed my Blog Comment of 17 May to CTC Campaigns Manager Roger Giffen, here is his reply...


Many thanks for this.

We certainly have a problem with the change from “where practicable” to “where possible” in relation to cycle routes.

However, the far more contentious is the fact that a rule which originally covered just “cycle routes” (which are mere lines on a map – and with the relatively light qualifying words “where practicable”) to a rule which also covers “cycle facilities” (including any cycle lane or cycle track, however dreadfully designed these might be). The fact that they have now marginally softened the qualifying words in relation to cycle facilities – from “where provided” in the consultation draft, to “where possible” in the version now before Parliament – is little consolation. The fact that, in making this change, they have also qualifying words for cycle routes have hardened (from “where practicable” to “where possible”) is adding insult to injury.

The good news is that we are now having some very constructive discussions with Department for Transport officials over some new possible wording, which would be fine from our point of view – in short, things are beginning to look promising. However, we still await a ministerial decision as to whether he will accept their recommendations.

Best wishes

Roger Geffen
Campaigns & Policy Manager

CTC, the national cyclists' organisation

Mike1727 said...

The government line seems to be slowly- if reluctantly- moving, judging from Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport Tom Harris' comments in this debate.

"My right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East and other Members have expressed concern about the proposed changes to the highway code. However, for the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife to claim, as he did, that the draft highway code forces cyclists to use cycling facilities is patently untrue." [but this answer neatly dodges the conributory negligence point which forms the basis of most objections]
"May I take this opportunity to emphasise that the advice on using cycle facilities in both the current and the proposed revised highway code is not a legal requirement? It places no compulsion on cyclists to use cycle facilities, and it remains their decision whether or not to follow this advice. The distinction between legal requirements and advisory rules is made clear in the introduction to the code.

We consulted on proposed changes last year, and the version that has now been laid before Parliament includes many revisions following the consultation process. More than 40 changes relating to cycling were made to the draft, in response to representations made by cyclists and cycle groups. These include removing the words "where they are provided" from the ruleon cycle facilities. I acknowledge that cycling organisations, particularly the CTC, still have concerns about some of the proposed wording in the code. As the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife said, we have been discussing these concerns with them. I am confident that those discussions will result in a form of words that is acceptable to all sides."