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Highway Code revisions see cyclists and pedestrians prioritised

By Tom Gibson | August 3, 2021


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Latest Highway Code changes see walkers and cyclists benefit over motorists

Highway Code revisions see cyclists and pedestrians prioritised

The Highway Code is being updated and, in a move that will anger many motorists, pedestrians and cyclists will gain increased priority over cars and other vehicles in a number of key circumstances.

Pedestrians are currently prioritised only if they are already crossing a road into which a car is turning. The updated code would prioritise pedestrians who were waiting to cross, mandating vehicles stop to let them cross.

Cyclists will also be smiling if the changes are implemented, as they will be given right of way to undertake cars waiting to turn left into a side road. This scenario, in particular, is often the cause of dispute in London with some highly publicised and tragic accidents coming as a result of cyclists not being seen or looked for.

Cyclists will also be allowed to overtake vehicles stopped on main roads and waiting to turn right. Passing distances and speeds for cyclists and horses would also be prescribed and clarified.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is also proposing to introduce a “hierarchy of road users”, which would aim to “​​ensure those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.”

The proposed changes to the Highway Code are intended to promote walking and cycling by making life on the road safer for them, and they came about following a consultation. Some respondents voiced concerns during the consultation process, however, that some of the rule changes could actually increase risks in some circumstances, with cyclists and pedestrians potentially taking greater risks when drivers are turning left, for example, or want to cross roads.

The DfT says it will now: “look at all the proposed changes afresh to consider what amendments are needed to the proposed wording to take account of the valid comments received”, after which an updated Highway Code will be published.

It’s TBC on how this new guidance will be implemented and, as with any major change, it could potentially take years for the changes to be adopted. 


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