posted 3 years ago

Why Did The AA Publish The Cyclist’s Highway Code?

A new Highway Code book aims to encourage young ones to start cycling and teaches us how to stay safe.

The AA – the motoring organisation not the self-help group for alcoholics – has published the first ever Cyclist’s Highway Code. It contains the cycling-specific information from the standard Highway Code as well as cycle maintenance tips and guidance for new cyclists based on cycle training given to school kids.

In effect, it’s aiming to get more people cycling, not chide cyclists for “jumping red lights” or the other transgressions that some motorists see cyclists doing but ignore when fellow motorists do the same. (Cue knee-jerk comments below from folks who will have read above’s headline alone.)

Introducing the book yesterday AA president Edmund King, who cycles of course, said: “Cyclists and drivers are often the same people and the Highway Code is important whether you are on two wheels or four.” Amen to that. And sticking to the religious theme here’s a taster of the foreword I wrote for the book:

The Highway Code might be seen by some as a motoring manual but, from its inception in 1931, it was meant for all road users, not just motorists. The first edition – all 18 pages of it, one of which was devoted to cycling – introduced the principle that cyclists and pedestrians were also responsible for road safety. The first rule in the Highway Code of 1931 was “Always be considerate towards others.” This concept didn’t originate with the then Ministry of Transport; it is thousands of years old and central to all of the world’s religious and ethical traditions. The Jewish scholar Hillel the Elder, a sage in the age of chariots, said the Old Testament could be boiled down to “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.” This cardinal rule is also in today’s Highway Code: “It is important that all road users are considerate towards each other.”

Who, really, can argue with that? (See below in a couple of days’ time.)

+++ Carlton Reid drives a Nissan Note (it’s his wife’s car, really) and is the executive editor of and author of Roads Were Not Built For Cars.