Today (18 October 2018) the UK Government has announced a major review of the Highway Code to help keep cyclists and pedestrians safe on the roads.  

Our Chief Executive, Joe Irvin, explains why this is a major victory for active travel organisations.

A review of the Highway Code presents us with a huge opportunity to make our streets safer. 

Not just for lovers of walking and cycling but for everyone.

Too often people walking pay the ultimate price on our roads - despite not causing road deaths, congestion or toxic air levels. 

This is unacceptable and we welcome this opportunity to make roads safer.  

It responds to one of the five calls made recently by walking and cycling organisations in our publication Moving the Nation - to "revise the Highway Code to improve safety for people walking and cycling, particularly at junctions."  

Our streets can be so much more than just corridors for traffic and this review can reimagine our spaces to encourage more of us to walk and cycle as part of our daily lives, making for a healthier, cleaner, safer world. 

Moving the Nation - our 5 asks

Speed 

Lower default speed limits to 20mph for most roads in built up areas and 40mph for the most minor rural roads to make our roads and streets safer for everyone. 

Space

Adopt and ensure consistent application of existing ‘best-in-class’ infrastructure design standards to create safe, attractive and inviting places for people of all ages and abilities. 

Safety

Revise the Highway Code to improve safety for people walking and cycling, particularly at junctions. 

Priority

Prohibit pavement parking to create safer and more accessible streets. 

Culture

Provide cycle training for all children during their primary and secondary school years and embed a culture of walking and cycling throughout the school curriculum.

Quote

Spread the word on social media

This review comes at a critical time, with the most recent national road casualty statistics showing that...

In 2017, pedestrians accounted for more than a quarter (26%) of road fatalities - up 11% compared with 2010-14 and 5% compared with 2016.

Motor vehicles were responsible for 99% of pedestrian deaths and in 2017 took the lives of 402 people. 

A quarter of all pedestrian casualties in 2017 were children aged 1-15.

Almost half (46%) of children killed on roads were pedestrians, 14% of these were between 7-9am and 23% were between 3-5pm - school run hours. 

These statistics are shocking and have devastating impacts on people's lives. They show that people walking are most at risk and are the only road users facing increasing rates of casualties and fatalities.

We believe that the government should follow the likes of Sweden, New York and London and adopt a Vision Zero approach to deaths and serious injuries on local roads since these make up 98% of Britain’s road network.

This review of the Highway Code is an opportunity to take steps towards reducing these road casualty figures and enabling safe walking.

It is important to emphasise that this review must create an environment where every child, disabled and elderly person can walk safely. If this is achieved – our streets become better for everyone.

Get ready to have your say

Since we were founded nearly 90 years ago, Living Streets supporters and local groups have championed the cause of safer streets. So, when the Government consults on this we will ask Living Streets supporters for the improvements to the Highway Code that you want to see.

We will in any case be pushing for the following five key reforms to be included:

Speed

It is important the message that speed limits are maximums and not targets is reinforced. Drivers should be encouraged to drive at speeds several miles below the limit.

Corners

Stronger priority should be given to through-traffic over turning-traffic. Until this change is realised, an updated code should stress the need for drivers to ensure turns are safe before they change direction.

Careless driving

Examples of careless and dangerous driving should be included in the highway code with particular reference to vulnerable road users.

Equipment

Any onus on walkers and cyclists to wear high visibility or reflective clothing or a helmet is removed from the code.

Junctions

Pedestrians and cyclists should be given clear priority at junctions. Almost a quarter of all pedestrian deaths or serious injuries occur on crossings or within 50m of a crossing. 

Sign up for Enews

Join our campaign and be first to know when consultations open.

Sign up for our emails

By making walking and cycling safer and more pleasant we can encourage greater numbers of people to choose these cleaner and healthier ways to travel. We look forward to discussing these issues at our conference with PACTS in November.

Living Streets looks forward to engaging the Department for Transport in positive dialogue as part of this review.

We will seize this huge opportunity for safer streets, cleaner air and increased active travel.