The rules on cycling two abreast should be updated to erase any confusion from drivers, campaigners have said.
Under the Highway Code, riding two abreast is allowed but the guidance often leads to confusion as motorists believe cyclists should single out when drivers wish to overtake.
British Cycling and charity Cycling UK have launched a campaign to update the code to make it clear that riding two abreast is often safer than riding in single file.
The government is currently consulting the public on planned changes to the Highway Code aimed at improving road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, but campaigners fear the proposed new wording for the two abreast rule is still to confusing.
Dame Sarah Storey, British Cycling’s policy advocate, said: “The intention of the proposal is to make it clear that riding two abreast is not just legal but it’s also safer and more convenient for all road users – and that includes drivers as well. However, our concern is that the proposed wording doesn’t achieve that goal and the existing ambiguity around this issue remains.
“If you think about a situation where you might be riding with your child, as I do on a regular basis, you want to make sure that you have your child on the left of you so that if somebody is passing too quickly or closely you are offering them some protection. In this situation we don’t believe that a parent should ever feel compelled to ‘single out’."
Storey added: “We know that this issue is a longstanding subject of debate between motorists and people on bikes, with unnecessary hostility often directed to those out cycling, usually in the form of dangerous overtaking. Through the consultation we have the opportunity to clear up the confusion once and for all, and it’s absolutely vital that the Government hears the experiences of thousands of people who would benefit from this change.”
The current wording in the Highway Code under rule 66, says "you should never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends,” but British Cycling believes this should be the rule should be expanded.
British Cycling’s proposal for rule 66 says: “You should be considerate of the needs of other road users when riding in small or large groups. You can ride two abreast and it is often safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders. Be aware of drivers behind you, allowing them to overtake (e.g. by moving into single file) when you feel it is safe to let them do so.”
The national governing body has also asked for clarification on rules 154 and 213 of the Highway Code, to inform drivers that cyclists riding two abreast are allowed to decide when to let cars pass.
Cyclists can make their comments in the government consultation here.
The consultation ends on October 27.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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