Pedestrians and cyclists have been given extra rights in a series of changes to the highway code that came into force last week.
Bicycles can now legally skip a red light to turn right, but only at crossroads where a sign says so. Pedestrians wishing to cross a road have priority wherever they are - not just at designated crossings.
There is also a new training requirement for scooter-owners. Read more about the changes here.
Connexion newsletter readers were astonished by the new rules.
On pedestrians having priority...
I have to be wrong- but does this mean that if there were ten pedestrians waiting along a road of 500m we are obliged to brake/stop/be alert every 50m? What with cyclists allowed to ignore one-way signs and now allowed to ignore the traffic lights when turning right, it's going to make driving even more of a hazard.
The new regulation seems to me to be bizarre and potentially life-threatening. We all have seen people cross roads within close proximity of a designated pedestrian crossing, often in a diagonal direction, crazy (and lazy) enough in itself. However the new law is far worse than that. To allow a pedestrian to cross a road anywhere by simply gesturing with an arm or showing an intention to step off without carefully taking the traffic into consideration is madness. On top of that the motorist can be fined €135 with four points deducted. I'm sure we can all imagine scenarios in towns and villages which are potential disasters for either the motorist or the pedestrian and I'm not even considering the contribution of those normal risks that exist under the previous regulation.
I don’t understand the logic! Does this mean that any pedestrian can indicate his/her intention of crossing on any road whatever the speed limit or does it just apply to 50kph? If I am driving on a road with 90kph limit and I suddenly stop to allow a pedestrian to cross and somebody runs into the back of me, will my insurance company recognise that I was in the right?
What are they thinking? This is lunacy. I think that the new rule for pedestrians is stupid, as it is at the moment a pedestrian takes his life in his hands when crossing at a designated point, cars do not always want to stop. I am sure that this new rule will be disastrous for everyone. How will a driver feel if a person using a mobile phone (texting) for example and does not bother to look if it is safe to cross and leaves no time for breaking and then has an accident? In the UK we call it jaywalking . In the USA I believe it is an offence not to use a designated crossing. As far as bicycles turning right at red traffic lights, I think that is sensible as long as it is clear for them to do so, i.e not knocking a pedestrian down.
New rules in Paris maybe, but how long before they permeate to the rest of France, and how long after before the French (god love them) take any notice.
Once again the French authorities have increased the chance of being involved in an accident, which could be fatal for a pedestrian. Pedestrians should have right of way at pedestrian crossing as in the UK. French drivers are the worst offenders for not giving way at crossings. I think consistent rules should always be maintained. As drivers we have to give way where there is a broken line at a junction or roundabout and stop if the line is continuous at a junction, but there is still a serious road safety issue where there are no road markings on minor roads that give motorists the right of way over traffic on what could be classed as a major road. We know what the rules are that we should give way but is easy to forget when most roads have markings now to remind you to stop or give way. So let's suggest to the French authorities, that in the interest of road safety the issues need to be seriously addressed.
Unbelievable, are the French trying to increase pedestrian road accidents? So someone steps into the road in front of your car, you break sharply because they are now legally allowed to do this and the car behind you crashes into your car! Can you just imagine all the paperwork involved in this one. Obviously if someone steps in front of your car you would always try not to hit them, but this is something entirely different. Not only do we have to look out for cars with right of way driving out of a side turning onto the main road, but now we have to avoid hitting people jumping off of pavements at any time, just with a wave of the hand to get you to stop! Does this only apply in town, or will tractors have to perform more emergency stops in the countryside as well?
Absolutely ridiculous. he road is for vehicles not for pedestrians and they should not have right of way. This could cause unnecessary deaths because people are unpredictable and giving a "sign" might mean one thing to the pedestrian but another to the motorist and confusion could reign. Needs a serious and very quick re-think before someone is killed unnecessarily. Can a motorisist always see a pedestrian crossing 50m away especially when they are in an unfamiliar place? Of course not. Please ask the authorities to think again before they bring this rule into law. Now a motorist doesn't even have to stop at a pedestrian crossing for someone wishing to cross and this new rule seems to have gone from one studipity to another. How long will it take the French to get the hang of it? Too long. Someone will be killed or serious injured very soon after it comes into effect and who will take the responsibility for that? The whole concept is total madness.
From the sublime to the ridiculous! Pedestrians having priority to cross anywhere is patently crazy; on pedestrian crossings, yes, except that in several villages round here there are sometimes ten in a half mile street. Perhaps now they’ll paint the whole road in white stripes. As to cyclists, where’s the difference? They do this anyway – and not only on right turns.
What I have found to be impossible in four years here is to find a copy of the French Highway Code in English. If you or anyone knows where to obtain this, it would enable many of us to better understand the road safety and rules. We cannot all be fluent in French for the French version.
This may work in small towns but I cannot see it working in larger towns with two or three lanes of traffic. Can you imagine the choas on the Champs Elysées, péripherique or similar road in Paris when some "I know my Rights" person decides he can cross. Car insurance premiums will be set to rise soon as well with all the accidents. I am presuming this only applies to roads with a 50kph speed limit or all hell will be breaking out on the autoroutes.
I find it hard to believe that such crazy laws are in effect. Suppose a pedestrian just suddenly walks onto the road when a vehicle is too near to stop? How can the driver be held responsible? There some crazy laws in France such as "give way to traffic coming from the right". I have had a couple of near misses being on a straight and obviously higher priority road when a car has just driven out in front of me with no thought as to whether I had time to react/stop. Who dreams up these laws, and how on earth do they get passed?
What Godforsaken idiot has come up with this new law? Any decent caring driver who fully understands the highway law now has the added dangerous problem of looking out for dashers who will always take a chance and bolt across in front of you. Now it seems that a hand wave will suffice, this cannot be right and all the dashers we don't see in time because they do not or will not wait will be able to make us all turn into nervous wrecks as we glide past anyone on the edge of a road.
When I read this I thought it must be 1st April. Perhaps the French authorities for roads are staging a comeback after abandoning their mad “priority for vehicles joining from the right” rule? If the new regulation is precisely as you have reported then one can only wonder how many injuries or deaths will result from this new craziness unless all motorised vehicles throughout France are restricted to 20 kph. However, from the Government’s point of view, making such a rule is relatively cheap whereas modifying the existing pedestrian crossings – poorly marked, unlit and usually obscured by parked cars – would cost money. Even the most ardent Francophiles among us could not argue that the UK is light years ahead of France in this respect.
I fear the French drivers need educating about stopping at a crossing. The number of times that I have had a near miss of being knocked down is often. As a driver I have stopped for a pedestrian and a driver approaching from the other direction has not. I think it will be a long time before anyone feels confident about crossing a zebra in France.
The proposed changes (re pedestrians) are crazy. Perhaps it depends where you live, but here in the south (Languedoc- Roussillon) pedestrian crossings are not taken seriously either by pedestrians or motorists. Only a few foolhardy foreigners dare to take the risk. No, crossings need to be signed up in a much more obvious and systematic way: beacons, chevrons, no parking within a prescribed distance,etc. (At present motorists regularly park ON crossings). If the authorities want genuinely to improve matters they need to take a more serious look at the problem.
In short, I find the new pedestrian crossing rules totally ridiculous, unnecessary and positively dangerous! How does a pedestrian decide if the vehicle that is coming along will be able to stop in time? If the driver hasn't had time to stop, they could well get fined. If the pedestrian just steps out willy nilly, whilst waving hand about, they could get hurt or worse. Who will decide if a motorist has not stopped or not? How will this be enforced? There are enough pedestrian crossings for times when traffic is busy and other times there is no need to stop the passing traffic; one just uses a bit of patience while the cars go by. The priority rules in France are illogical already and now this. What are they thinking of?
As for the question about scooters and teenagers, I have a number of children and the first five all started using a scooter as soon as they were able. The younger ones have yet to reach the age, but have already got their scooters waiting to be passed onto them. A scooter gives them independence and I don't have to be a taxi driver all the time! We live in a country village and there is noting within
walking distance and no public transport.
Both my teenagers took their test as soon as they could and have been scooting safely for several years. The training is good and on the whole other road users take care around scooters. They're a great thing for kids, giving them freedom and independence, rather than having to rely on family taxi services.
As a two-wheeled enthusiast myself, it would be completely unreasonable to object to my son/daughter to use a scooter. We were in fact pro-active, encouraging our children to learn to ride in conjunction with professional training bodies, to advanced standard. Yes it’s scary for us, but that’s our problem and I don’t think its right to put our personal fears on our children. Life is for living.
My son has just passed his BSR at 14 years old. He now has a 49cc scooter. Living in the middle of the sticks it is a lifeline for him to visit his friends and go to sports events. As a experienced motorcyclist myself over 35 years I have tried to pass this road sense onto him and make him aware of the pitfalls of using the road. The worst problem is that the scooters are restricted and have trouble keeping up with the traffic and the other road users ‘must’ overtake them and then cut them up.