Cyclists and horse riders 'doubtful' of new Highway Code protection

Embargoed to 0001 Saturday January 29 File photo dated 25/01/22 of traffic passing a cycle lane as a

Traffic passing a cycle lane as a major revamp of the Highway Code to boost protection for cyclists and pedestrians comes into force - Credit: PA

Ipswich cyclists and horse riders have expressed "doubt" that the new Highway Code advisory rules will protect them. 

The changes from January 29 are aimed at improving road safety for people walking, cycling and riding horses following a public consultation. 

But though they have been welcomed by many non-vehicle road users, there are concerns there is still a lack of enforcement of the rules. 

Highway Code: new hierarchy of road users. 

Highway Code: new hierarchy of road users. - Credit: Press Association Images

Motorists need to pass people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph and allow at least two metres of space.

The Highway Code also says you need to wait behind horse riders and not overtake if it’s unsafe.

Wendy Simmons, who sits on the Ipswich Horse Society committee, was "doubtful" that the changes will be followed. 

Wendy Simmons and her horse George.

Wendy Simmons and her horse George. - Credit: Wendy Simmons

Ms Simmons added: "Most riders would probably agree that cars usually pass at speeds in excess of 30mph and many, myself included, know what it’s like to have a stirrup iron clipped by a wing mirror. 

Most Read

"Sadly I don’t think roads will ever become safer for horses and vulnerable road users.  

"We have a combination of increasing volumes of traffic, vehicles getting faster and easier to drive and people under constant time restraints. The majority of motorists pass a horse with no more thought than if it were a parked car.

Highway Code: new priorities for pedestrians. See story TRANSPORT HighwayCode. EMBARGOED to 0001 Sat

Highway Code: new priorities for pedestrians. - Credit: Press Association Images

"Actual laws, as opposed guidance, giving vulnerable road users clearer legal rights may help. I’ve frequently been shouted at from passing cars, the most common being 'get your horse off the roads', 'roads are for cars, we pay road tax' or my favourite 'why don’t you stay on the bridleways?' - if only!"

Loo Bricate, a cyclist, said she does not want to make motorists "angry" by riding in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowings. 

She added: "If I stick to the left they can pass me safer with more room."

Highway Code: new rules at junctions. See story TRANSPORT HighwayCode. EMBARGOED to 0001 Saturday Ja

Highway Code: new rules at junctions. - Credit: Press Association Images

She said she has experienced issues when turning right with motorists speeding to overtake when she is about to turn. 

Wilfred Arasaratnam added: "It’s a pity we don’t have Dutch-style cycle paths then cyclists would be segregated from larger traffic, more people would take up cycling because it’s safe and there’d be none of this hate."

Wilfred Arasaratnam

Wilfred Arasaratnam on the Waterfront in Ipswich - Credit: Wilfred Arasaratnam

Drivers seemed particularly annoyed by the changes as it creates a hierarchy of the road. 

Jack Ball said: "Whilst they're a good start, there needs to be much more investment in improving the infrastructure, too.

"A lot of the time, you'll get these fancy new bike lanes, in the form of bollards or actual standalone lanes, that then can't be cleaned or maintained, so cyclists don't use them, which in turn causes drivers to complain about the wasted space so councils look to reverting back to the original car-centric design."

Road user Paul Chamberlain said: "I believe some of the new rules are dangerous.

"Having to anticipate when people want to cross at a junction is plain stupid. Pedestrians can simply walk off the pavement without even looking and it will be the driver's fault if they get hit. Drivers pay to use the roads and can get fined for any infringement.

"What do pedestrians and cyclists pay?"

Road tax was abolished in 1937 and replaced with Vehicle Excise Duty Tax (VED) that is linked to emissions, meaning those with fully-electric cars do not pay the tax. 

Paula Egan said: "I think it’s a way to try and get all motorists off the road and people to take up cycling and walking. They say there are too many cars on the road."

Luke Roberts said: "I think they are wrong to have made the changes they have made, far too much priority and power has been given to cyclists who don't abide by the rules of the road anyway.

"I think it's likely to cause more accidents than it prevents. Is also confusing for motorists who let's be honest most of them can barely drive down a road without hitting anything as it is."

Baroness Vere of Norbiton.

Transport minister Baroness Vere opened the Transport East conference. - Credit: Chris McAndrew

Roads minister Baroness Vere said last week that the updated Highway Code will make Britain’s roads safer and encourage people to “respect and consider the needs of those around them”.