Lincolnshire Ramblers

Lincs Area RA

The Highway Code and walkers

walkers at malham cove


Safe walking on roads – confusing advice.
There is still confusion among Ramblers on Group walks about the correct side of the road to walk. It may be a good time for all Groups to review the way that large Group walks are led and back-marked on roads

Recently there has been confusing advice given regarding the rule about which side of the road walkers should use, particularly when walking on fast country roads without pavements. Clearly the Highway Code must be referred to in the first instance, particularly in these days of Health and Safety legislation and public liability insurance.
The relevant wording in the current Highway Code relating to pedestrians is covered by sections 2 and 5.

2 - If there is no pavement keep to the right-hand side of the road so that you can see oncoming traffic. You should take extra care and be prepared to walk in single file, especially on narrow roads or in poor light. Also, keep close to the side of the road.
It may be safer to cross the road well before a sharp right-hand bend so that oncoming traffic has a better chance of seeing you. Cross back after the bend.

For small walking groups this is the advice which everyone agrees on. The problem comes when the group is “large” In the Highway Code the advice is, as follows

5. Organised walks. Large groups of people walking together should use a pavement if available; if one is not, they should keep to the left. Look-outs should be positioned at the front and back of the group, and they should wear fluorescent clothes in daylight and reflective clothes in the dark. At night, the look-out in front should show a white light and the one at the back a red light. People on the outside of large groups should also carry lights and wear reflective clothing.
The Ramblers comments on this section of the code are given in ‘Guidance for Walks Leaders’ on the RA website.

“The most recent version of the Highway Code gives contrary advice about which side of the road to walk on. It indicates that large groups should walk on the left. The Ramblers Association does not consider regular Led Walks to constitute a large group”. “The leader and back-marker are recommended to wear reflective arm bands on the left arm on any walk involving road walking”.

Various Ramblers Groups seem to be taking a “common sense” view about which side to walk depending on the situation on any particular walk. These days all Groups must be prepared to handle large parties on their walks.

What do other organisations do?
Some of you may have been on the public walks led by the Wolds Countryside Service(a public body) and you will know that some of the walks have more than 100 walkers. Such walks are clearly “large “and it has been observed that they take the left side of the road.
Leaders of “Walking for Health Initiative” walks have been advised to use common sense to judge a particular situation. Such walks tend to be up to about 20. Colin Smith

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 November 2009 11:36

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