Why is the Highway Code not enforced?
The Highway Code rule 163 states:
'Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should….
give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211 to 213) and 214 to 215).' Pasted from
The illustration of this rule shows a car overtaking on the right hand side of the road, away from a roundabout, whilst leaving the entire left lane for the cyclist. The photo is subtitled 'Rule 163: give vulnerable road users at least as much space as you would a car'.
The reality we face is Roman, Medieval and Victorian road widths and on-street parking results in insufficient space for vehicles to pass cyclists safely and this results in many cyclists and motor cyclists near misses, casualties and fatalities. Of course other rules such as not using mobile phones and driving without due care are also reasons. So why don't we see more cracking down on this?
The reasons might be lack of political leadership, cost or laziness, too big a problem, not my problem and lack of accountability. I would say with the high level of casualties and deaths on the roads there is evidence of a systemic complacency and failure in for those who manage our roads including the Police, and directors of TfL, local authorities, haulage, bus, coach, taxi, construction company directors and developers. Do we need a royal commission to look into this or could technology such as video evidence enforce the Highway Code too?
We could learn from other examples how to overcome systemic failures and improve attitudes and behaviours to improve safety. The construction industry learnt to improve construction site safety by improving attitudes with strategies such as 'target zero' and 'everybody gets home safe'. Such high level ambitions were supplemented with training, adopting processes and work practices that are costly to implement. Nevertheless, the cost of an accident and death is massive to the families and people involved. Also, legislation, such as corporate manslaughter may be appropriate for those who are found to be complacent or negligent in conducting their duties. Moreover, attitudes of road users need to change to be cautious, anticipate and tolerate vulnerable road users.
The end result could be drivers will wait until there is space to pass vulnerable road users. Traffic speeds will reduce however the average traffic speed is low anyway, not much more than 11mph or average cycling speed. Surely that is a better scenario than present?
I suggest we need more effective enforcement of the Highway Code with a 'target zero' and 'everybody gets home safe' culture. Jailing those who have failed to uphold their duty in managing and policing the roads or their employees using existing corporate manslaughter legislation could be one way to ensure that change in attitude is effective and implemented quickly.
John Harding-cycling in London since age 11. One of my school friends Andrew Jackson was crushed to death by a left turning bus almost 40 years ago...what's changed since then!