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Highway Code updates should instead make it “mandatory” for cyclists to ride single file on busy roads in the interests of safety. He claimed cyclists “don’t have the same view of the road” as car drivers which are responsible for controlling the “power of a vehicle”.
Under current laws, Rule 66 of the Highway Code currently states that cyclists should ‘never ride more than two abreast’.
The rule says that cyclists should ‘ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends’.
Mr Freeman said: “Despite current consultation, in my view, there is no need to change this – except to make it mandatory rather than advisory.
“The problem is that, as it stands, the Highway Code is being abused by cyclists who steadfastly ride two abreast when they shouldn’t – such as on a busy, narrow or winding road.
“It needs to be a legal requirement to cycle single file on a busy or winding road – with appropriate penalties such as fines or a point system for those who transgress.”
“If cyclists ride two abreast it effectively means that they, the cyclists, decide if a motorist can overtake them or not – since clearly it is only safe to do so when they ride single file.
“Yet cyclists don’t have any of the ingredients needed to make this decision. They don’t have the same view of the road as a motorist. They can’t judge the power of the vehicle behind them.
“Especially since cyclists rarely have mirrors. They can’t assess the space needed for a car to overtake. The decision to overtake should be the motorists and the motorists alone.”
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The Department for Transport (DfT) has just closed a consultation on proposed changes to the Highway Code which they say will improve safety for vulnerable road users.
A key part of this is to establish safe distances and speeds allowed when overtaking cyclists on the road.
The new updates will also include a new “hierarchy of road users” system which ensures that motorists who do the greatest harm have the responsibility to reduce the danger.
These rules will effectively make the driver responsible for incidents while allowing cyclists extra leeway on the roads.
New rules would also advise drivers to give priority to cyclists at junctions when travelling straight ahead.
The DfT said they are analysing feedback from the consultation and are considering the outcome.
Mr Freeman hit back at campaigners to change the rules as “misplaced” and even “dangerous”.
He added that allowing cyclists to run next to each other would make it “hard” for cars to overtake which could have an impact on air pollution.
Mr Freeman added: “There are other considerations too. Not only is it hard for motorists to overtake cyclists who ride two abreast.
“The practice will cause more pollution, congestion, anger and accidents – all the things which need to get rid of – since drivers will have no choice but to dawdle behind bikes.
“The law also needs to change so that cyclists have a form of compulsory identification – say a numbered tabard – which relates to the rider, not the bike. That way those who break the law can be brought to account.”
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