Our top call above all was for the new Code to include a hierarchy ensuring that those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose others.
This would implicitly make people walking the Number One priority.
The hierarchy would be:
We called for stronger priorities for pedestrians, introducing a new obligation for drivers to give way to pedestrians waiting to cross at junctions (side roads) or zebra crossings.
The new rule makes clear that at a junction, drivers should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or, or out of which, they are turning.
Equally, for pedestrians, “when you are crossing or waiting to cross the road, traffic should give way.”
All riders MUST give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing.
We supported the proposals that the new Code make it clear that 20mph speed limits must not be exceeded by drivers. The proposed update acknowledges that fast speeds increase the likelihood and severity of a crash, and that slower speeds are less intimidating for people walking.
Rule 125 says: “You should always reduce your speed when sharing the road with pedestrians, particularly children, older adults or disabled people, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists.”
The proposed changes are ones that Living Streets has campaigned for for many years.
They reflect the thinking and ideas more broadly of the Walking and Cycling Alliance (WACA), of which Living Streets is a part, alongside the Bicycle Association, British Cycling, Cycling UK, the Ramblers and Sustrans.
During this process, Living Streets’ former Chief Executive Joe Irvin led talks (on behalf of and including WACA partners) with interested organisations – including road safety groups, disability charities and motoring bodies, before presenting agreed WACA proposals to update the Highway Code to the Department for Transport.
Walking is a vital part of our everyday lives, and we are all pedestrians at some point. It is the cleanest, greenest and most accessible form of exercise – and yet pedestrians (followed by cyclists) currently bear the brunt of road casualties.
In 2020, pedestrians in England made up almost a quarter (24%) of deaths in road collisions, and almost a fifth (19%) of pedestrian deaths occured at or within 50m of a crossing.