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“Long may it continue”: Sir Chris Hoy says that he has experienced fewer close passes since the Highway Code revisions

Former UCI President Brian Cookson, however, thinks that some drivers are still taking “unquantifiable risks”

Sir Chris Hoy says he has experienced fewer close passes from motorists while riding his bike since revisions were made to the Highway Code in January.

The rollout of the Highway Code changes, which were introduced to protect vulnerable road users, coincided with a wave of misinformed newspaper articles and red-faced talk radio segments which described the revisions as a “cyclists’ charter” which would lead to increased road rage and “chaos” on Britain’s roads. 

Three days before the changes were implemented, the Department for Transport announced the launch of a £500,000 publicity campaign to raise awareness of the changes and ensure that “road-users across the country understand their responsibilities”. 

> Highway Code changes: Department for Transport finally announces publicity campaign to increase awareness 

And six-times Olympic champion Hoy believes that the highly publicised nature of the revisions has led to safer conditions on the road for cyclists.

The 46-year-old tweeted: “Anyone else noticed fewer close passes when out on your bike since the change in the Highway Code?

“Could be a coincidence, but I’ve just had an amazing couple of hours on the road and not a single scary moment! Long may it continue.”

Hoy’s tweet appears to reflect the experiences of an encouraging number of our readers who, as we saw earlier this month, reported noticing an improvement in considerate driving, drivers giving those on two wheels more room, and feeling safer when crossing junctions by bike or on foot. 

> "Lunatic Highway Code" encourages road rage and gives cyclists carte blanche, Fair Fuel UK boss claims 

While a number of Twitter users also provided some positive feedback, with one writing that motorists appeared to be “more considerate” since the changes, not everyone agreed with the retired track star.

The Paralympic gold medal-winning tandem pilot Adam Duggleby replied: “If anything I've had so much more bad driving incidents recently than ever. Seems like it gets worse when the sun's out!” 

Another user responded to Hoy’s tweet by posting a video of a high-speed close pass, which happened yesterday afternoon.

Former British Cycling and UCI President Brian Cookson argued that while some of the messaging around the Highway Code revisions seems to have taken root in the minds of motorists, the roads aren’t necessarily safer for cyclists.

“A weird thing I’ve noticed is drivers giving me plenty of space, but still overtaking when they can’t see what’s coming round the corner just ahead,” he wrote.

“It seems some people just don’t like to slow down, even if it means taking an unquantifiable risk.”

> Sir Chris Hoy calls for end to 'them v us' attitudes to cycling and driving 

Hoy, who has successfully dabbled in motor racing since his retirement in 2013, has long been an advocate for safer, more considerate conditions on the roads, and has decried the ‘us versus them’ attitude often held by both cyclists and motorists.

Speaking in 2018 at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Hoy said: “At the risk of getting too political about it all, in my opinion, when it comes to urban environments, or indeed anywhere riding a bike, it shouldn’t be a cyclist hit by a motorist or a confrontation between a taxi driver and a cyclist. 

“We are people trying to get around and, whether you choose to go on foot, on a bike, a taxi, a bus, we are people trying to get from A to B, and you should remember that we are all someone’s son, daughter, mother, father, brother or sister.

“People’s lives are at risk and it’s time to stop having a them versus us. In reality most cyclists drive and vice versa. We have to try and put ourselves in the shoes of another person.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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14 comments

Avatar
stonojnr | 1 year ago
0 likes

First few weeks might have been a small improvement, but its like Adam Duggleby says I think it's been getting worse as the weather improves.

Yesterday was utterly manic, half a dozen close passes before I'd even ridden 2miles,and the next 2hrs werent much better, I would be generous to say only 1/3rd of drivers actually gave 1.5m passing space,and most of those were overtaking as Brian Cookson says, into blind corners,over crests of hills with no clue what was coming towards them.

This shot was from the week before, I actually thought they were going to pull in on me and hit me into the hedge, and there wasn't anything coming towards them in the other lane.

Avatar
vthejk | 1 year ago
2 likes

Nope, still exactly the same. To think that the 'new and improved' highway code has changed anything is a red herring IMO. This distracts from the fact that what would really change drivers' behaviour, is real, visible legislation and enforcement from the Government and Police. 

One can dream.

Avatar
lonpfrb | 1 year ago
2 likes

Since it's been my experience that a significant minority can't tell what 1.5m looks like, I have fitted a visual aid to my bike. That's 1.5m of white plastic pipe 15 mmm fitted to the seat post with gaffer tape and pirpendicular to the top tube to the right. Thus passing drivers can easily tell how far they should be to safety pass below 30mph.

Avoidance is much better than evidence and the effort to report, expecting action...

Just because I have a camera doesn't mean that I want to spend time chasing up unsafe driving, so pipe and tape work well, seeming to be noticed by nearly all. 'Oi mate, you got pipe in your Bike'!

Yes, I do like to carry pipe.... You never know when you might need some!

Avatar
Troon replied to lonpfrb | 1 year ago
1 like

Don't they then have to keep 1.5m from the end of your pipe?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to lonpfrb | 1 year ago
1 like
lonpfrb wrote:

Yes, I do like to carry pipe.... You never know when you might need some!

What are things coming to?  This country's going down the tubes.

Avatar
Ride On replied to lonpfrb | 1 year ago
0 likes

Doesn't sound very aero!?

Avatar
Rich_cb | 1 year ago
2 likes

Definitely my experience too.

It feels quite surreal when car after car waits patiently then passes nice and wide.

Still get the odd idiot of course but it's certainly a lot better.

Avatar
HarrogateSpa | 1 year ago
3 likes

One person's subjective impression counts for very little, and Hoy has got form for drivel.

"In reality most cyclists drive and vice versa." No. Most cyclists drive, but NOT vice versa.

Mr Hoy should stick to riding a bike indoors or writing children's books.

Avatar
huntswheelers | 1 year ago
4 likes

3 NIP from Plod for last weekend....all way too close, one just skimmed my elbow....2 from yesterday submitted to plod....ALL of them avoidable with the new HC rules ...should they have been adopted.... Cambridgeshire....but then they know Plod is pretty poor for actio , Camera evidence however doesn't fib, my ride buddies and I are all tooled up with recording kit

Avatar
wtjs | 1 year ago
4 likes

No change in North Lancashire- neither the police or Lancashire drivers pay any attention to the Highway Code, so it's not surprising.

Avatar
Rik Mayals unde... replied to wtjs | 1 year ago
3 likes

I've noticed a difference, to be honest. More people are holding back and overtaking when safe, and giving me plenty of room. I thought it was coincidental at first but I have definately not had anywhere near as many near misses. Riding back from Hornby this morning towards Caton, a Bargh milk tanker sat well back and waited patiently until it was clear, then passed me nice and wide.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago
9 likes

Just back from a 50km mother's day visit ride across London and the difference in driver approach is really quite startling - my right shoulder's aching from giving so many thank you waves and thumbs ups! A couple of maniacs who seemed to be making a point that they weren't going to follow any namby pamby new laws, but overall I felt the average standard of driving with respect to close passes has improved at least 50%. Long may it continue.

Mind you my cynical wife suggested that many drivers were unwillingly going to visit their mothers-in-law and so didn't mind being held up en route...

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wtjs replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago
0 likes

Good! I'll look forward to it!

Avatar
Ride On | 1 year ago
6 likes

This is also my experience.

However I am concerned about vehicles going out very wide to overtake without checking for oncoming cyclists, I have a had a couple of those.

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