Police and Crime Commissioner responds to Highway Code criticism

North Devon Gazette

Having read the latest column from Dave Griffin, in which he gives his views on the recent changes to the Highway Code, I felt I simply had to respond.Â

While Mr Griffin is certainly not alone in his thinking – I have seen similar opinions expressed on social media - I find it hard to understand or sympathise with his misgivings.Â

As the national lead for road safety on behalf of all Commissioners and chairman of the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership, I have made road safety one of just four priorities in my Police and Crime Plan. Our communities want our roads to be safer and for dangerous drivers to be caught.Â

Roads are a shared space in which we must all show respect and consideration for others, as we do in all areas of life.Â

Cyclists, along with horse-riders, motorcyclists and pedestrians, are vulnerable road users. They do not have the benefit of being encircled by a protective cage of steel with numerous airbags and crumple zones to cushion the blow of any collision.Â

The changes to the Highway Code, including the new hierarchy of road users, is there to protect people from death or serious injury – surely that is something we should do everything to encourage.Â

Mr Griffin also made some dubious claims that I feel must be addressed directly.Â

Firstly, the Highway Code does not advise pedestrians to “place themselves in front of traffic on the risky assumption that it will stop”.Â

Pedestrians do have priority in certain situations – such as when they are crossing or waiting to cross a road. To suggest any pedestrian would simply walk out into a busy road just because they have priority is absurd. The idea of this rule is to place the emphasis of responsibility on road users who have the potential to cause the most harm, which seems like common sense to me.Â

Secondly, cyclists are allowed to ride in the centre of the lane and/or two abreast because it is safer for them to do so. Drivers should only overtake when it is safe to do so and give cyclists as much room as you would give a car, a minimum of 1.5 metres. Â Anything less is potentially dangerous.Â

To suggest cyclists, disrupt traffic “with a gleeful sense of triumph” is simply nonsense and does nothing to encourage the mutual respect all road users should have for one another.Â

And if your own driving is really so poor that you are genuinely worried about “ploughing into” a group of cyclists, might I suggest you slow down and perhaps consider whether you should be driving at all.