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Spain ‘to make it illegal’ for drivers not to slow down when overtaking cyclists

Joe Middleton
·2-min read
Spain is reportedly forging ahead with measures to keep cyclists safer (file picture of cyclist passing cars in the UK) (PA)
Spain is reportedly forging ahead with measures to keep cyclists safer (file picture of cyclist passing cars in the UK) (PA)

Spain is reportedly planning to introduce a new law that will make it illegal for drivers not to slow down when overtaking cyclists.

Current safety laws in the country already require motorists to leave a gap of 1.5 metres when trying to pass bikers on the road, even if this means crossing the unbroken white line in the middle of the road.

But the new amendment to Spain’s traffic regulations mean that drivers must slow down to below 20km the speed limit on that road to make a pass, as reported by motoring website Diario Motor.

The changes are being pushed by the DGT (Directorate General of Traffic), with the aim of helping to improve the safety of vulnerable road users in a country that is increasingly choosing to travel on two wheels.

Punishments for breaching the new rules have not yet been confirmed, but could include points deducted from your licence or fines. It is not yet clear when the new rules will come into force.

Changes to help vulnerable road users come amidst a Highway Code review in the UK for cyclists, walkers and horse-riders.

Among the proposed alterations is a new road user hierarchy, details on cyclist priorities at junctions and guidance on safe passing speeds and distances for motorists.

The new overtaking rules suggest that drivers should give cyclists at 1.5 metre space if driving under 30 mph and more than two metres if going above that speed.

Proposals being considered could also mean cyclists are able to ride two abreast or more unless they feel it is safe to travel single-file.

The consultation ran from late July to late October 2020 and is now closed.

Rachel White, Head of Public Affairs at the walking and cycling charity, Sustrans told The Independent: “The proposed new rule due to be introduced in Spain to increase passing distances of people on cycles to at least two metres, is a principle we support and are calling for here in the UK.

“The Department for Transport recently announced a review of the Highway Code, to update guidance on how road users should behave, including the amount of space motorists are required to give whilst passing those walking and cycling.

“We would like to see the Highway Code updated to be clearer and more consistent, with a two-metre passing distance required for motorists overtaking in all instances.

“The implementation of rules such as this, and that which is due to be rolled out in Spain protect vulnerable road users and are great steps in making real positive change for people cycling. Making it easier and safer for people to cycle, can open up active travel as a more accessible means of getting around and encourage those who would otherwise be put off from cycling, to do so.”

According to the government website the responses to the Highway Code consultation are currently being assessed by the Department for Transport.

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