A more mature route to safer roads

NO SURPRISES really when you search the internet for a reaction to the new changes to the Highway Code, you end up reading an argument. On social media. Few people fail to get on like the cyclist and motorist, and these debates can, and do, go on for hours.

Are cyclists treated poorly on Guernsey roads? Sometimes, yes. Are there poor drivers in the island? Of course, as there are anywhere. Do we have aggressive cyclists jumping queues, lights and turning against traffic? Sometimes, yes. The indignation expressed on social media posts with helmet-cam footage can sometimes be justified, but otherwise gives the impression of the intolerance that cyclists can equally hold against the drivers.

That indignation comes from a more vulnerable position on the road and is, therefore, more understandable.

And hence the general broad welcome to most of the new revisions made to the Highway Code, which are now in effect. The changes above all reinforce the need for more tolerance on Britain’s roads, and by extension, those in Guernsey, and that has been backed by local traffic groups today, under the banner of the newly-formed Guernsey Road Users Network.

It has brought together motorist, heavy goods vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist and safety groups in a way that social media never could. Together they have welcomed a ‘more mutually respectful’ approach towards road safety, and the new ‘hierarchy of road users’, placing greater emphasis on those who can do the greatest harm to show the greatest responsibility to others.

The Guernsey Bicycle Group talks about ‘a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users’.

Do the changes, as pedestrian safety group Living Streets said, indicate that the mindset of road users is changing? ‘Collectively people want to make the roads safer for all.’

We must hope so.

One simple description of the changes which came out last week that surely most people can subscribe to: ‘If you already drive and ride sensibly and safely, then really these changes are nothing for you to worry about.’

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