Highway Code: Just 18% of cyclists believe road safety has improved since changes introduced, research finds

New research has found that just 18% of UK cyclists believe last year’s Highway Code changes have made a positive difference to road safety.

The poll by cycling insurance specialist Cycleplan asked 1,000 regular UK cyclists for their views on the changes and how they have been implemented. Just over half (52%) of respondents were aware that the changes had even been introduced, a similar figure to when the insurer carried out a similar poll in early 2022.

When asked whether they had noticed a difference in road safety at junctions over the last 12 months, only 18% of cyclists said that they felt safer. Around one in 10 (12%) said that junctions have felt more dangerous, while a further 70% said they hadn’t noticed a difference at all.

Just one-fifth of the cyclists polled said they feel safe cycling on UK roads, while 32% have had, or nearly had, an accident in the last 12 months. Furthermore, when asked whether they feel that cycling safety is taken seriously enough by legislative bodies, one in 10 agreed that the UK Government makes this a priority, with 12% agreeing that their local council takes cycling safety seriously.

The Highway Code changes were introduced on 29th January 2022. In a YouGov poll carried out in January on behalf of Cycling UK, 25% of British adults asked were not aware of the changes to the Highway Code. Of those who were aware of the changes, 28% were able to correctly answer the question “how much space should a driver leave when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph”.

Read more: BikeBiz’s guide to the latest bike security

Cycleplan also gathered anonymous first-hand accounts of the aggression faced by cyclists every day while out riding – a selection of which can be found below.

Cyclist one said: “A motorist drove up close behind me when I was approaching a junction. I had the right of way as I signalled to turn. As I pulled out of the junction, he followed me out and intentionally close passed me. I remonstrated at the motorist for driving dangerously and he then stopped and threatened me.”

Cyclist two said: “Just the other day I was sworn at for indicating and turning right. The motorist was about 30m behind me when I made the move to the centre of the right, he was over the 20 mile an hour speed limit and swore at me as he passed on the inside. The abuse was appalling. There is lack of consideration in both car and cycle users and being cut up is not unusual. Having said that, it’s not all motorists’ fault. I belong to a cycle club and some of the riders are a real liability.”

Cyclist three said: “On several occasions, I have been beeped at by a motorist while cycling safely on my commute to work. There is no reason for this attitude and it scares me every time. Only educating motorists – such as insisting on a regular review of Highway Code to maintain your driving licence, or segregating cyclists in safe cycle lanes – will resolve this for the safety of cyclists.”

Rebecca Morley

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