Drivers told to give cyclists ‘more space’ and do ‘extra checks’ after Highway Code change

GMB: Mike Graham slams new Highway Code cyclist rules

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According to data from the Department for Transport, bicycle traffic increased by more than 95 percent between 2004 and 2020. However, in that same time period, serious injuries also jumped by 26 percent, leading the Government to implement new safety measures.

There are more than 4,000 cyclists seriously injured every year and overall injuries are close to 20,000 annually. 

The Government introduced new measures to protect road users in January, with fresh guidance being included to help reduce accidents.

A “hierarchy of road users” was created to ensure quicker or heavier modes of travel have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others on the road.

Cyclists were reminded they can ride two abreast, but they must be aware of drivers behind them and allow them to overtake, provided it is safe to do so.

This has always been the case and is oftentimes safer in large groups or with children.

Lee Evans, bicycle insurance comparison expert at Quotezone.co.uk, urged drivers to look out for cyclists when on the roads.

He said: “While we celebrate cycling in June, with the health and environmental benefits of pedal power being plain to see, there must be a reflection on the dangers faced by both cyclists and pedestrians.

“We mustn’t forget there’s more to do to help increase safety and protect our vulnerable road users – from allowing them more space and time to make their manoeuvres and doing extra checks such as the Dutch Reach.

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“Bicycle insurance is still not obligatory, yet many injured cyclists need physio assistance, time off work, and replacement bicycles.”

The Dutch Reach was one of the key introductions as part of the new Highway Code guidance.

The technique involves all drivers and passengers in vehicles to open their door using the opposite hand so they look over their shoulder.

By doing this, they will have a greater view of the road behind them to see if any other vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians are travelling toward them.

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Mr Evans continued: “With the increased power and speed of electric bicycles, we might see accident volume and severity start to increase further – putting pressure on the government to make insurance protection a necessity. 

“Cyclists should check and see if they can add their bicycles to their home insurance policy as a specified item, or else take out a bespoke bicycle insurance policy. 

“Using a comparison site makes it relatively inexpensive, and certain policies that include cyclist liability cover protect a cyclist should they have an accident with a pedestrian or another vehicle.” 

A recent report from Zoomo found that 41 percent of those over the age of 55 said they would use an e-bike as an alternative to a motor vehicle.

Around 37 percent of those under 24 years old said they would use an e-bike to lessen their impact on the environment.

Between 2020 and 2021, demand for bicycles increased 270 percent, although that pace has started to slow down slightly.

In that time, demand for electric bikes has kept its momentum, falling by just 1.9 percent across the colder winter months.

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