Cyclists and pedestrians prioritised in upcoming Highway Code revisions

Latest Highway Code changes look to strengthen the priority of walkers and cyclists over motorists

The Highway Code is set to undergo a huge shake-up that would give pedestrians and cyclists priority over cars and other vehicles in a number of key circumstances.

Pedestrians currently have priority over cars 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.

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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.”

Cyclists would also be given greater rights if the changes go ahead, being given right of way to undertake cars waiting to turn left into a side road, and also being 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 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.

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