Changes to code give priority to pedestrians and cyclists

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DRIVERS need to be made more aware of planned changes to the Highway Code to ensure that vulnerable road users are protected, a mother, whose son was seriously injured when he was knocked from his bike, has said.

Joanna Dentskevich has been campaigning for improved road safety after her son, Freddie, was hit by a vehicle while he was cycling in St Martin in March 2020.

The changes, which Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis said would ‘flow into’ Jersey’s version of the Highway Code, come into force on 29 January and include a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’, which places more responsibility on the drivers of larger vehicles such as buses and HGVs.

Pedestrians will have priority when waiting to cross a road drivers are turning into, and vehicles indicating to turn left or right will also have to give way to cyclists approaching from behind and going straight ahead.

Mrs Dentskevich said she was ‘very happy’ that the changes were being introduced, and hoped people would be made aware of them. She said: ‘A lot of road users believe the hierarchy moves towards guilty until proven innocent but it doesn’t. It is just making everybody responsible and aware of their obligations, and it is very important that everybody is aware of what they now have to do.’

She added: ‘It goes back to what I have always said, which is about respecting other people on the road.’

Cycling advocacy group Cycle4Jersey has said not enough is being done to inform road users about the changes, and that Islanders could be ‘putting themselves at risk’ if they assume that drivers are aware of the new rules.

A spokesperson for the group said: ‘It is very worrying that there has not been a concerted effort to explain the changes and the hierarchy.

‘Pedestrians now, if they are walking across a junction that a car is turning into, have the right of way. There does not have to be a zebra crossing there; they have the right of way and the car has to stop. If you have a situation where a schoolchild or teenager knows the changes are coming through – and they expect other motorists to know that – they are putting themselves at risk of being hit because the car driver doesn’t know what the new rules are.’

The spokesperson added: ‘It is not just about safety for cyclists, that’s just one small aspect of it. This goes right the way through from pedestrians to motorists.’

In a statement, Deputy Lewis said: ‘These important changes to the UK’s Highway Code will flow into Jersey’s version and will come into force here on 29 January. The updates will, in particular, improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.

‘We will, of course, be highlighting the key changes through a timely awareness and media campaign over the coming weeks, and I’d encourage road users to make sure they are familiar with the updated code when the UK DVLA publish it at the end of the month.’

He added: ‘The changes align with the work that we’re doing as part of our recently released Island Road Safety Review and assessment of existing legislation to identify the benefits of introducing a hierarchy of responsibility of road users. This work is being carried out over the first half of this year and will feed into our upcoming Road Safety Strategy.’

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