Cycling

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:56 pm on 23rd May 2007.

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Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 4:56 pm, 23rd May 2007

I am delighted to respond to the debate and I am grateful to Willie Rennie for securing it. I shall start by responding to some of his comments and to the comments of my right hon. Friend Mr. Smith and my hon. Friend Mr. McGovern.

The hon. Gentleman said that the proposed changes to "The Highway Code" will shift the balance in favour of motorists and away from cyclists, but nothing could be further from the truth. We must remember that what we say and what we are interpreted as saying in this House carries a lot of weight. It is bordering on irresponsible to claim that the proposed changes are doing something as dramatic and as damaging as that when it is clear, as I shall set out later on, that that is not the case.

Andrew George came close to justifying cyclists running red lights.

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Chris Beazer
Posted on 24 May 2007 11:40 am (Report this annotation)

It is clearly the case that proposed changes to the highway code are shifting the balance in favour of the motorist. The wording possible instead of practicable means that dangerous or extremely inconvenient facilities will have to be used because they are 'possible' - previously they could be avoided. Many insurance companies have tried to use the fact that a cyclist was not wearing a helmet, despite helmets not being mandatory, as a reason for reducing damages after a claim when a motorist who was at fault was sued by the cyclist. The same will now happen when any cyclist involved in an accident which is not his fault doesn't use a 'facility' no matter how inappropriate, simply because it is 'possible' to use it.