The Key Changes to the Highway Code

A revised edition of the Highway Code will come into force on 29th January 2022 introducing rules on improving road safety, with the new hierarchy of road users being the most significant.

Rule H1 aims to put more responsibility onto the drivers of larger vehicles to highlight that those drivers can cause the greatest harm in the event of an accident.

At the top of the hierarchy, and the most vulnerable of all road users, are pedestrians. Pedestrians are followed by cyclists, who are followed by motorcyclists and horse riders, car/van drivers and then larger vehicles such as buses and HGVs.

This confirms that cyclists owe pedestrians a greater duty of care, whilst motorcyclists, horse riders and drivers of four wheeled vehicles owe cyclists an enhanced degree of care.

Rule H2 is also of particular importance to cyclists, in that if you are at a junction, you should now give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning. For example, if you are turning into a road and there is a pedestrian waiting to cross, you will need to give them right of way.

Rule 63 has also been amended so that cyclists should give right of way to pedestrians on shared cycle tracks and to horse riders on bridleways. Cyclists should not pass by pedestrians or horse riders closely or at speed and must not pass a horse on their left.

Similarly, Rule 239 now states that you should leave a door’s width or 1 metre when passing a parked vehicle.

The amended Highway Code also introduces new obligations towards cyclists, which you should be aware of and which have been listed below;

  • Rule H3 states that motorcycles and motorists shouldn’t turn at a junction if doing so would cause a cyclist to stop or swerve;
  • Motorists must now give at least 1.5 metres distance when overtaking cyclists at speed of less than 30mph (Rule 212);
  • Motorists should give way to cyclists in a cycle lane, especially when approaching from behind (Rule 140);
  • Motorists must allow cyclists to cross in front of their vehicles when travelling in slow moving traffic (Rule 151); and
  • Motorists must give way to cyclists that have moved onto a parallel crossing (Rule 195).

It is no surprise that the changes have afforded cyclists greater protection on the road, which is likely to have come as a response to the recent accident statistics from 2020 which confirmed that the cyclist fatality rate in Great Britain had increased by a staggering 41% when compared to 2019’s figures.

Cyclists are reminded to stay vigilant whilst cycling on the roads and to use cycle lanes where possible. Where there is no cycling lane, cyclists should leave plenty of room for other road users to overtake them in a safe manner.