Government ignores riders in Highway Code review

The British Horse Society (BHS) said it is “disappointed” a review of the Highway Code aims to “empower cyclists and pedestrians” – but does not mention riders.

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced the review today (18 October), stating that it is part of the “government drive to keep cyclists safe on the roads”.

Guidance on how road users should behave in relation to those on bikes and on foot is to be considered, as part of the government’s “ambition to drive down unnecessary deaths”.

Cycling and walking minister Jesse Norman said: “Britain has some of the safest roads in the world, but we need them to be safer still for all – and particularly for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

“Cycling and walking are increasingly being understood as crucial parts of an integrated approach to issues of health, obesity, air quality and town and city planning. But this will only happen if people feel safe on the roads.

“These measures are part of a steady process of improvement and reform designed to achieve just that.”

Highways England has also announced today a £3 million contract with Sustrans to help improve the national cycle network.

BHS safety director Alan Hiscox, who has been working with the DfT, the DVSA and a range of other bodies on improving rider road safety, said: “Although the BHS welcomes the Department for Transport’s measures to reduce accidents involving vulnerable road users, we’re disappointed this review contains no specific mention of the significant dangers faced by horse riders and carriage drivers on UK roads.

“This is an opportunity to amend section 215 of the Highway Code, to include the specific advice to drivers from our ‘Dead Slow’ road safety campaign.

“This advice focuses on driver education, as it is clear from the hundreds of incidents reported to us by equestrians that many drivers are simply unaware of how to safely pass a horse on the road. The guidance given in the Highway Code is fundamental in educating drivers about the needs of vulnerable road users, including horse riders, and we therefore hope this forthcoming review will not overlook this important opportunity to improve road safety for the UK’s 1.3 million regular riders.

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“The BHS does not want to feel that horse riders are the forgotten vulnerable road users.”

The DfT said the new Highway Code will highlight how to avoid the dangers of close passing, and “encourage people to adopt the ‘Dutch reach’, a method of opening a car door with the hand furthest from the handle, to force drivers to look over their shoulder for passing traffic”.

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