At the end of May, a new petition was put to the government to introduce a specific minimum passing distance for cyclists. This petition has now exceeded 20,000 signatures and if it reaches 100,000 it will have to be debated in Parliament.
The petition appears on the UK Parliament website and it requests specific legislation be put in place for the minimum passing distance when cyclists are being overtaken. The petition lays out exactly what experts in the cycling industry have agreed is a fair passing distance as well as a belief that the current legislation laid out in the Highway Code is too vague.
“Plenty of Room”
The current legislation related to passing cyclists is laid out in the Highway Code. Highway Code Rule 212 states that drivers must give cyclists ‘plenty of room’ when passing and overtaking and the assertion behind the petition is that this simply isn’t clear enough.
The term “plenty of room” allows for ambiguity which is why the petition suggests a minimum passing distance of 1 metre being legislated, to provide cyclists with better protection. They believe this minimum should be put in place on all roads with speed limits up to 30mph and when speed limits are higher, they believe the minimum overtaking distance should be 1.5m.
Over 20,000 people have so far signed the petition showing there is public interest in getting some stricter guidelines in place. Once a petition to the UK government reaches 10,000 signatures a response is provided by the government and in this instance that it wasn’t particularly supportive of the measure.
The government’s response stated that they do not currently have plans to put minimum passing distances in place and provide the fact it would be ‘extremely difficult to enforce’ as one of the key reasons for not legislating in this area. They do however, comment upon other areas where similar systems are in place and describe their position on the subject as ‘under review.’ This suggests if the issue did make it to 100,000 signatures and was debated there could be discussion for changes to legislation and campaigners in the cycling world are hoping for this.
If the petition did become something that the government created relevant legislation from, then it is likely drivers would be at risk of fines and penalty points should they drive too closely to cyclists when overtaking.
Keeping vulnerable road users such as cyclists safe from road traffic accidents is essential but whether this particular idea would work in the UK is something that remains to be seen.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7512717@N06/26960736696″>Haymarket, spring evening 06</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>