Highway Code Updates to Protect Cyclists and Pedestrians

New Highway Code revisions to tackle motorists that overtake cyclists too closely and open their doors dangerously

Cyclist casualty figures

The Highway Code is to be updated to reduce risk to cyclists and pedestrians, The Department for Transport confirms. Why? Because, for starters, 101 cyclist died via traffic collisions in 2017. Furthermore, the Government wants to encourage walking and cycling as it believes such activities help our health and the environment.

Dangerous overtaking

Highway Code revisions look set to address a couple of primary concerns. The first is that motorists get too close to cyclists while overtaking. This substantially increases the risk of collision, injury and death. At the very least cyclists can be blown off course which is frightening, unnerving, and intimidating.

The Highway Code will therefore confirm ‘how to avoid the dangers of close passing”, The Department for Transport says. Perhaps it will have a minimum recommended distance. Perhaps, in addition, it will explain how to pick a safe time and place for such manoeuvres.

Dangerous door opening

The second concern is that motorists open their doors without looking for cyclists, pedestrians and other hazards. The Highway Code, therefore, will soon ‘encourage people’ to use the Dutch Reach. This technique requires motorists to open their door with the hand furthest from – rather than closest to – the inner handle.

Drivers that reach in this manner more naturally turn their head towards the window, look over their shoulder then spot any hazards.

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Government Minister champions change

The Cycling and Walking Minister, Jesse Norman MP, explains: ‘Britain has some of the safest roads in the world but we still need them to be safer for all - particularly for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.’ People have to feel safe if they are to cycle and walk in greater numbers, he suggests.

Campaigner welcomes Highway Code updates

Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK, welcomes the likely changes. He argues: ‘Close overtakes and people opening car doors in front of cyclists are not only dangerous, they also put people off riding a bike. That is why Cycling UK has been campaigning for changes to the Highway Code for years.’ He reveals:

‘We are delighted the Government has listened. We further hope to contribute to the discussions regarding the amendments required to prioritise the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.’

Mr Dollimore therefore says drivers have to ‘give’ cyclists enough room when overtaking, ‘wait’ if this is not possible, and ‘look’ before they open a door when there might be people in close proximity. These requirements must be ‘crystal clear’, he explains.

Yet again placing all the onus on motorists and nothing to protect people against dangerous cyclists. There are good and bad in both groups but this move is wholly one sided again.

I personally don't agree I been driving for almost 40 years and daily cyclists ride very dangerously but no one does anything they constantly ride on the wrong side never stop at trafic lights they skip red lights and ride where ever they please road pavement they don't pay nothing roadtax insurance mot etc but yet they think they have more rights I think a better move is to apply roadtax to cyclists mot and insurance also a riding test more than 50 % dont know the rules i personally am a cyclist too but i have been taught correctly how to ride a bike

Agree with the proposal as long as it also forces cyclists to ride in a single line NOT two or more abreast!

Yes, the number of car, bus and truck drivers that get killed by cyclists is terrible isn't it? Oh, wait, it isn't. Sure, there are some idiots on bicycles but don't think for a moment that they are the majority because they are not. Also, one rogue motorised vehicle driver is 100 times likely to cause injury than all the cyclists on the roads at any given time combined. I have driven trucks and am well aware that cyclists can be a pain squeezing down the left side in traffic. Actually a lot of motorbikes do the same and let's be honest a lot of car ddrivers would if they could fit their cars in the gap. I also drive a car where at least visibility is better and I ride a bike and it is while riding a bike that I find myself getting bullied on the road every time. Cars in a queue will wait behind each other but a cyclist in the same queue gets the following car coming up level and then pulling in as if we have suddenly evapourated, so we have to ride over towards the gutter and scoot forwards to escape to safety ahead - and get complaints for overtaking on the left. There is plenty of opportunity to coexist on the road. Right, off for a bike ride now the traffic has died down a bit. Can't stand to ride while all the cars are snarling up the roads after work - ignoring traffic lights, making illegal turns, blocking yellow boxes and generally bullying each other let alone cyclists.

So you can squeeze through when you shouldn't?

maybe a car is more of a danger to the cyclist than it being the other way round, doesn't take a genius to figure that one out. However, given that is the case, you would have thought that the more vulnerable cyclist would want to not put themselves at more risk than is necessary and get that motorist out of their way as soon as possible, but when did you ever see one do that? seems that article 169 of the highway code doesn't apply to them , so why should they get special rules if they are above them anyway?

I'm sure that the majority of motorists are in favour of protecting the cyclist when & wherever possible because after all, they will have read the Highway Code at some point unlike a large percentage of cyclists who do not go through any formal training of how to move about sensibly on the highway, in traffic, how not to put themselves into a dangerous position whilst at the same time looking ahead for any potential obstacles. I do strongly think that cyclists should be encouraged to 'have a peek' at the said book of 'highway etiquette'.....they just might be amazed at what they should & should not be doing!!

No! Its an unnecessary use of road space. That extra space taken by the additional rider would be better used as more space between the single cycle and vehicle - you can never have enough separation. As a cyclist you should know that.

But I bet they can punctuate!

The law is pointless unless actively enforced by an overstretched police force that is forced to prioritise. I fear that this will be a low priority such as other laws e.g. lane hogging, tailgating and the like.

We also have a problem in the UK. Many local authorities ban cycling on pavements. That's OK except that the edge of the raid next to the kerb is poorly maintained and contains many potholes that bicycle wheels cannot negotiate forcing cyclists out towards the centre of the road unexpectedly in the way of approaching vehicles. Some drains are hazardous to cyclists too.

Think the 'people' referred to here are pedestrians, and bad cyclists do kill and maim pedestrians a simple statistical fact. They can also cause accidents by disobeying the highway code, had to swerve when a cyclist went straight across a junction at red, wasn't even looking where he was going. Swerved and braked in time but only missed hitting another car by inches, which in other circumstances could have been a pedestrian waiting to cross.

Thanks for your brilliant comment but u don't need a degree to write a comment we are talking about cyclists not my English so keep your comments on track

I would be more pleased to have also seen a strengthening of the law to deter cyclists riding through pedestrians on the footway and reinforcing the principle that they are equally responsible for their own safety and that of others. Along with rights comes those responsibilities and they need to be reminded that they SHARE the roads with pedestrians and motorists

Well why don`t you do what many cyclists do? - ride on the pavement and put the pedestrians at risk, at least they are not surrounded by protective metal so are an easy target for you

"101 cyclists died from traffic collisions in 2017." How many of those collisions were due to the cyclists? How many were due to the motorists? How many deaths in total were due to collisions in 2017? In the year ending March 2016 there were 1,780 road deaths in the UK. The onus is not solely on motorists to be more careful, but for cyclists to as well. It should be compulsary to take a cycling proficiency test before being allowed to cycle on the road.

In my area a cycle lane has been carved out of the left side of many roads so narrowing the space for other road users and in some places even marked out on the pavement so as to dangerously mix children/mothers with prams/ the elderly etc with crazy cyclists. Road repair should be prioritised to make all parts of every thoroughfare safe for the users - but I won`t hold my breath for this to happen soon.

If I was riding with a child I would cycle slightly behind and alongside so I would shield them from traffic. I would not ride in single file.

The Dutch Reach works quite well, but it's a shame more emphasis wasn't put on cyclist taking more care / responsibility for themselves such as wearing helmets.

Not so sure about making the Dutch Reach mandatory, first not everyone is physically able to do it (not referring to just being registered handicapped here). Can't even work out how to open the car door with just my left harm The proper use of the wing mirrors is the real answer before even attempting opening the door - For me this gives the furthest and clearest view of what is coming up from behind, just looking through the window or the opening door gap is still quite a restricted view. Should add car door opening are also a liability to all vehicles - be good to have an automated warning system like reversing alarms as its not something humans can be trusted to get right every time!

That is down to the police enforcing existing laws. It would be the cyclists who already follow them who would pay these things but those who ride like idiots wouldn't bother. Some cyclists already do have insurance. I too was taught how to ride safely etc. and had insurance via the club I was a member of.

Agree with this, but as others have said cyclists need to be aware of pedestrians and also stop riding on the footpath. I also think you should have to pass a cycling test before being able to ride on the road.

I am a rep and drive many miles in cities, towns, country lanes etc. Whilst I agree that you should look after cyclists I also believe they should have a responsibility to look after themselves and other people. Just a few examples from the last couple of months: 1) Whilst driving carefully up a hill on a country lane 3 lycra clad cyclists came hurtling down the hill round a blind bend, I pulled the car further left and hit the bank. If I hadn't at least one of them would have gone over the bonnet. Didn't do my heart, car or no claims bonus any good at all. Did they stop - what do you think? 2) Whilst walking across a marked zebra crossing in Hammersmith the car drivers all pulled up, a cyclist just kept going as if I didn't exist. 3) I was driving in a town in Derbyshire when a cyclist came out from behind the car behind me on my left hand side. The car was slowing down because I was indicating I was turning left. At the last second I saw this idiot and just managed to stop without him hitting the side of the car. I sounded my horn and he menacingly turned round and started coming back to my car all the time pointing to his helmet which had a camera on it. I pointed to my dash-cam and he soon turned tail and disappeared into the distance.

Personally as a safe driver of over 40 years experience, IAM tested and approved along with other road, track ad workplace driving qualifications, I would equally like to see laws put in place that would force cyclists and indeed pedestrians to read the sections of the Highway Code that apply to them and put them into practice. For far to long given the traffic volume in the 21st century cyclists have fallen into this grey area where they are considered road users but they constantly defy any rule, regulation, law and often plain courtesy that the HC asks of them. Naturallt this is not applicable to all cyclists but certainly to a very large minority if not the majority, sorry if this upsets this group but based on daily observations it is simply true. Of course this applies equally to motorised vehicle drivers, I honestly have never seen driving standards at such a low, however as cyclists are so quick to point out, they are extremely vulnerable road users (when they choose to use the roads and not footpaths that is) and as such they need to get their own house in order. All motorised vehicles require as a minimum third party insurance whilst a cyclist can - and often do- create mayhem and the default position is that the powered vehicle is at blame. All too often cyclists creep up the inside of traffic including buses, lorries and HGVs and are surprised when they, a small object are unsighted and end up in a dangerous position, one they put themselves in ??? Obviously they will end up shouting, swearing and videoing the motorist, often posting on social media to prove a point but often just ending up making a tit of themselves as their own ignorance has caused the situation. Every person that chooses to take to the roads should be legally obliged to accept the responsibilites that go with it, read the HC and see just what your responsibilities are, take out third party insurance, take a proficiency test and keep of the damn pavements. There should be some exclusions for children up to a cerain age of course but the whole attitude of and towards cyclists needs to be changed for the benefit of all and definitely the protection of the vulnerable cyclist. To be clear, this is not an anti-cyclist rant but merely pointing out that which should be common sense in evermore congested roads.

No one pays Road Tax. It was abolished in 1936. Most motorised vehicles pay varying amounts of Vehicle Excise Duty - a tax on them as they cause the most damage to the environment and the infrastructure. There are some bad cyclists, especially in London, just as there are many bad drivers!

I regularly cycle for commuting and leisure. It is very rare that I encounter any of the things you claim cyclists do. I do pay Vehicle excise duty, on two cars, you ignore that many cars on the road are not required to pay it as they are either old or low emission vehicles. I am insured including legal cover as are many of those I ride with. I did my cycling proficiency many years ago, car and motorbike tests also like many of those I ride with. Then again I do not share my routes with youths and school age children. I do see many motorists though speeding, the "SLOW DOWN" signs lighting up on my regular commmute (40mph road) and enormous amounts of rubbish thrown out onto the verges by car drivers and passengers. Not to forget close overtaking by some and even pulling out in front of me on a roundabout causing me to take evasive action! It is simply that too many road users do not follow the rules including pedestrians who walk on the left instead of the right. Oh yes and how do you propose to introduce a tax and insurance for primary school children who cycle to school?

Well said!

Article 169 applies to large or slow moving vehicles who shoud pull over to allow long queues of traffic to pass. SO you are correct that article 169 does not apply to them. Having pulled into a lay by on a busy road to allow a couple of lorries through, it was only a few seconds before another lorry was stuck behind me until the road widened sufficiently for him to pass. Nowhere to pull off again as no footpath, just overgrown verges.

All the cyclists I know also have car and/or motorcycle licences so they have had formal training - that is 100% of them, clearly not as you claim above.

Absolutely correct, we all share the roads and footpaths. I am not enthused by so called "shared" footpaths where cyclist are permitted, some of these up here are actually dangerous to both cyclists and pedestrians through poor design! I avoid them whenever possible, but do use the safe ones.

I would dispute large minority based on my experience, it is a small minority where I live and cycle/drive regularly.

i wish someone would point that out to tractor drivers etc then. i was stuck behind one the other day for over 3 MILES. there was plenty of places a tractor could have pulled in, after all theyre supposed to be 'off road' agricultural vehicles. i could have got past IF tractors were built to be the same width as normal cars or vans, but theyre NOT.

If a road is that dangerous (even with new rules on passing clearance) then you have to ask yourself how responsible you are being in taking a child on that particular road in the first place. Stick to marked cycle lanes or even better separated cycle ways with children.

Yes an example of bad cycling, just as there are examples of bad driving - many more of them too!

Yes - Be interesting to see the figures for % of injured cyclist who have a driving licence (and drive) compared to those that don't taking into account mileage ridden. Like to think I'm a better cyclist (and driver) for doing both!

Tell me about them! There are loads of them up here, plus combines in convoy with tractors, rapeseed and pea harvesters in season, milk tankers etc. I have been known to slipstream them on the push bike or just wait patiently when driving. Not worth getting steamed up about, they are at work after all, growing our food!

There is no reason why cyclist should not safely use most pavements with proper respect for all users. Have a lot shared (legal) pavements spaces around here and its not a problem accept for the occasional incompetent cyclist or pedestrian in the world of dilly dally on their phone. But both are statistics waiting to happen anyway.

Understood what you said - and that's what communication is about - You don't need to win the Booker prize for literary to make a point!

I also believe cyclist should now pay road tax and a must have accident insurance

Actual they do - the term Road Tax is even used by the DVLA. If it looks like a rat, smells like a rat and squeaks its a rat! Not that I pay road tax now or visit petrol stations as often these days, have a plug in Hybrid - Smug grin!

Sadly that's the way of the world with any law, the good obey them the criminals and idiots don't. But its the good that pay!

cyclists should be MADE to pay for insurance, road tax before using our roads instead of being the free loading burden to all motorists that they are and then maybe motorists would be more polite and respectful to them.. Pay your way and then you will be treated as equals.

This absolutely baffles me! They say that the cyclist should have the same rights on the roads as the cars. Correct me if I am wrong. A car/motorcycle has an engine and can do speeds that meet the posted speed limits. A cyclist, event the most elite, cannot keep up that pace so they will ultimately cause hindrance to the flow of traffic, causing potentially dangerous situations for both the cyclist and the driver. They now have all of the rights, but none of the responsibilities and restrictions. They do not have to take a test to receive a license to be qualified to ride on the rode. There is no registration to allow them access to the rights of the road. so when they decide that they don't have to follow the rules of the road, which comes with those rights, there is no registration to be able to track down those that decide to run red lights or ride on the wrong side. If they are to have the same rights then they should have to abide by the same laws and have equal chances of being ticketed if they don't. The comment that states that most cyclist are safe is preposterous. The average rider will cause traffic issues. Only the elite riders that can keep up a decent pace and are conscientious enough to try not to hinder traffic would fall in this category and they are few and far between. The vast majority that I have encountered are a bit pompous and try to push the limits of the so called laws and don't even attempt to be courteous. The rest of the field consists of children, families and the elderly that meander down the road without a care in the world, again creating an extremely dangerous situation for all involved. You would probably think that I am not a bike rider or not want to bike at all. That couldn't be farther from the truth. I would love to ride much more than I do, but the setup is absolutely ridiculous and has no rational thought used to keep both the drivers and the cyclists safe. If they would require bikes to register just as car needs to do, then use those funds to make proper bike paths and lanes, to keep them out of traffic. More people would be inclined to ride bikes or let their kids ride. The way it is now I would let my kids ride on the rode. Bikes have no engines and go closer to the speed of pedestrians than cars. Use funds from registration to improve combined bike and pedestrian paths. I would gladly pay to have a safe bike path to ride on like they do in many other parts of the world. If you are a professional or above average rider then apply for a license to be on the road and take a test like the rest of the users and adhere to the rules of the road like everyone else. I think it is absolute madness to impinge vehicular traffic more. That will just cause further problems with traffic. ...Just sayin'

Here Here! Well said. It's about time someone uses some sort of common sense when it comes to solving issues rather than being afraid of offending one group or another! This is another case of PC gone mad!

The Highway code actually states that cyclists can ride two abreast. However, if a motor vehicle is behind them, one of the cyclist must drop back to form a single line of cycles. I can't see the authorities dropping that from the highway code.

The majority are definitely unqualified. They may not necessarily be idiots, but either from lack of knowledge, common sense or physical ability, they cause dangerous situations. I have a long commute to and from work everyday. It is a very rare occasion to encounter a cyclist who is not a major hazard. I have sat behind a 20 car tailback on a country road as the cyclist just meandered along...during rush hour. They pass plenty of spots where they could safely pull over and allow traffic to pass, as it is "suggested in the rules of the road for cyclists. They just don't care or just plain unaware and un-bothered to consider others.

A cycling proficiency test would not stop unruly cyclist from riding through pedestrianised areas. That kind of rider would not even bother with a cycling test. You can bet that the government would put a price on the test. Thus discouraging cyclist from taking a test. No number plates means untracable.

Don't be flippant this is a serious topic.


very true and i have no issue with them having to work BUT when set off to a doctors appointment (fortunately nothing serious, so could rearrange the appointment as i ended up missing mine) some 20 mins earlier than i should have needed and STILL didnt make the appointment (tractor WAY too big for the road it was using) it can be a little annoying nevertheless. im just pleased i wasnt WORKING at the time or id have been very hungry that week (paid by the job)