Alex Bowden December 21 2017
Cycling UK has asked that the government make the Highway Code rule about passing cyclists less open to interpretation by stating the gap that should be left. The charity would also like to see guidance introduced for vehicle occupants to use the ‘Dutch Reach’ method of opening car doors.
The government consultation: “Remote control parking and motorway assist: proposals for amending regulations and the Highway Code” is to look at the Highway Code changes needed to accommodate such technology.
The scope of the consultation means that there may also be changes to the rules around overtaking cyclists (Rule 160) and car dooring (Rule 239) – two areas which Cycling UK believes need updating.
Rule 160 advises that drivers should: “be aware of other road users, especially cycles and motorcycles who may be filtering through the traffic. These are more difficult to see than larger vehicles and their riders are particularly vulnerable. Give them plenty of room, especially if you are driving a long vehicle or towing a trailer”
Cycling UK argues that the phrasing “give them plenty of room” is too open to interpretation and would like guidance on the gap drivers should leave.
Close passes account for a third of threatening encounters cyclists have with motor vehicles, according to research by Dr Rachel Aldred’s Near Miss Project. The project found that they are particularly a problem for women, who on average cycle more slowly than men, experiencing a 50 per cent higher rate of close passes.
Cycling UK would also like to see guidance introduced for people to use the opposite hand when opening a vehicle door to get out. The so-called Dutch Reach method twists the person so that they can’t help but look behind them as they open the door, reducing the likelihood that they will door a cyclist.
Rule 239 of the Highway Code currently states: “you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic”
Despite this, between 2011 and 2015, there were 3,108 reported collisions where “vehicle door opened or closed negligently” was recorded as a contributing factor in incidents attended by the police.