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Highway Code changes: Cycling UK calls for long-term public awareness campaign to help produce a “mindset shift” on British roads

Charity says it will take years, not months, to fully enforce the revisions and change “entrenched driving behaviour”

The updated Highway Code, which comes into effect today, has the potential to usher in a “mindset shift” which will make the roads safer for everyone, according to Cycling UK – but only if the government commits to a long-term, well-funded public awareness campaign, the charity says.

On Wednesday the Department for Transport (DfT) announced the launch of a £500,000 communications drive to raise awareness of the new changes and to ensure that “road-users across the country understand their responsibilities”.

The announcement followed weeks of criticism from both cycling and motoring organisations of what many view as the government’s failure to effectively communicate the Highway Code revisions to the public, which has led to a spate of misleading reports in the mainstream press.

> Public must be told about Highway Code changes, says Cycling UK

The publicity campaign, operated by the government’s long-standing road safety campaign Think!, will be broadcast across radio and social media, and will run in two phases beginning in mid-February and concluding in the summer.

In a statement issued yesterday, Cycling UK welcomed this initial campaign but called on the government to “look beyond the summer and commit to a long-term awareness campaign”.

“The latest changes to the Highway Code are a hugely important start towards a mindset shift that will make the roads safer for everyone – not just for people who choose to cycle or walk,” Cycling UK’s head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore said.

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

 “The changes in our driving behaviour, however, will only happen if the government commits to communicating them with simple, accurate, and memorable messaging in the long term.

 “We’ve seen the public’s attitude shift on seat belt use and drink driving. This shows entrenched driving behaviour can change. The new Highway Code requires a similar shift, and it can happen again but not overnight.

 “To make our roads safer for everyone, the government must be looking in terms of years not months to communicate and eventually enforce these changes.”

Alongside the DfT’s upcoming publicity campaign, Cycling UK has also created a free online toolkit, featuring ‘myth-busting’ graphics, videos, and cartoons, to ensure that the changes are accurately communicated and to prevent confusion among road users.

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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35 comments

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Awavey replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
7 likes

The sad inevitability of road safety in the UK is people are killed daily on the roads regardless of updates to the HC,hence doing nothing isnt an acceptable choice imo, but these updates do not i believe increase the risk to any road users and should make it safer for the most vulnerable going forward.

I'm at a loss as to why organisations like the AA claim it will result in an increase in rear collisions,whilst not making the point to remind people to leave enough braking & stopping distance at the same time, the two are inexorably linked.

It reminds me of a close pass when I was signalling right to turn into a side road using a painted turning lane, and the car behind me who was going straight on overtook me. I admonished him in my best Anglo Saxon as he passed me and veered back left across me and he took both his hands off the wheel and shrugged as if to say sorry but what else could I do, so i suggested back i could stick that centre pedal in his car somewhere he wouldnt forget about it in a hurry, but in much shorter 1 syllable words.

My point ultimately here was not there will be crashes as a result of these HC updates, theyll happen inevitably unfortunately, but that some hack will try and spin the next incident they spot as a direct consequence of these updates, when it really wont be the case at all.

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Hirsute replied to Awavey | 2 years ago
4 likes

Any one would think that rule 126 is brand new

Stopping distances. Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear.

You should

leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it suddenly slows down or stops. The safe rule is never to get closer than the overall stopping distance

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Hirsute replied to Awavey | 2 years ago
3 likes

Discussed this at dinner and one thing that came up is zebra crossings.
At the moment drivers do stop if someone is loitering. Also many are completely unaware of the rule that where there is a refuge, then it is 2 crossings. Many a time I have had to stop because the driver in front has halted because someone is loitering on the far side.
When driver behaviour is voluntary, there are few collisions, but when it is mandated, there will be 10000s !

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giff77 replied to Awavey | 2 years ago
1 like

The piece in the second half was actually the lead this morning (10am) I was pretty impressed by it. The comments were typical DM readership though. When I came back to it this afternoon it had a new lead which totally dismayed me as the DM had reverted to type. 

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giff77 replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
0 likes

Then there was the bloke who was stuck behind some cyclists for 8 miles!  Seriously. If you can't pass a bunch within a mile you really do need some refresher lessons. I've never been stuck behind a cyclist for more than half a mile and I sure haven't delayed a motorist for anything much further than that. 

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