Cyclists will not be forced to use cycle paths, confirms transport minister03/05/2006 News
With 10,000+ signatures on a campaign to change the wording of the draft Highway Code, CTC is in a strong position to get the wording amended. And this was confirmed in a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons yesterday.
Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem MP for East Dunbartonshire, put Derek Twigg on the spot:
“Many people are deeply concerned about the draft revised highway code and the effect that it will have on cyclists. If, as is proposed, it is changed to require cyclists to use cycling facilities, a cyclist involved in an accident with a vehicle might not be covered by the motorist’s insurance company due to a contributory negligence claim. Will the Minister give us an assurance that the new highway code will not force cyclists off the road for fear of legal consequences?”
Twigg replied: “The simple answer is that it will not…The consultation on the highway safety code finishes on 10th May and we will listen to any suggestions and proposals made.”
Plugging the government-appointed agency charged with ‘getting more people cycling, more often’, Twigg said:
“We have set up Cycling England, which plays an important role in taking cycling forward, and we will see better cycling safety training and driver awareness. Significant extra sums have been invested, not least in providing safer routes to school to increase the safety of younger people.
“The key issue is that cycling is a sustainable type of travel that is very good for people’s fitness and health, and we want to encourage it. It is also important that we continue to press safety awareness issues and to make them clear to cyclists and motorists alike. Increased investment has been made in cycle training and in developing cycle training programmes, which will be important for improving safety on the roads for cyclists and motorists.”
Lynne Jones, the Labour MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak, chimed in:
“What about training for motorists? Instead of trying to confine cyclists to using specific cycling provision, which might be inadequate, will my hon. Friend consider the practice in continental Europe, where far more people cycle? One of my constituents, who comes from France, tells me that the French highway code places the onus on motorists to give cyclists plenty of space. Can we look to best practice in European countries and bring our cycling levels up to theirs?”
Twigg said: “Yes, we can clearly learn lessons from such best practice, and we will do so.”
But he couldn’t resist a gentle dig about the [link=/cms/resources/resource-24-davechameleon.jpg]Tory leader’s habit of cycling to work[/link], with aides carrying his luggage in a following car:
“I hope that, when the right hon. Member for Witney [David Cameron] cycles anywhere, the Lexus carrying his socks and shoes is far enough behind him [not to knock him over.]”