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Cambridge charity Camcycle welcomes new Highway Code rules



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Cambridge charity Camcycle has welcomed the new Highway Code rules aimed at protecting cyclists and pedestrians that come into force later this week.

The new guidance, in force from Saturday, January 29, makes drivers more responsible to watch out for people cycling, walking or riding a horse, and cyclists will have to be more aware of pedestrians.

Cyclists are told they can ride two abreast and that it can be safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders.

And they will be encouraged to ride in the centre of the lane on quiet roads.

Other key amendments include clearer guidance for drivers to leave a distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists, and instructing drivers turning into a road to give way to pedestrians waiting to cross.

Highway Code: new priorities for pedestrians. Infographic: PA Graphics
Highway Code: new priorities for pedestrians. Infographic: PA Graphics

There will also be a recommendation for car users to reduce the risk of opening a door into the path of a cyclist by using the hand on the opposite side to the door, as that will often lead to them looking over their shoulder.

A Camcycle spokesperson said: “The new code reminds all road users that they have a duty to take extra care around other people, and the heavier your vehicle the more responsibility you bear.

“The changes are mostly clarifications to ambiguous or frequently misunderstood rules. In the past, many drivers failed to understand why people cycle side-by-side or take positions in the centre of the lane; the new Highway Code explains why and when it is safer to cycle this way. The old wording of rule 163 was vague about how much room drivers should give when overtaking cyclists; the new code specifically states that you should leave at least 1.5m of space at lower speeds and even more space when driving faster. It's also clear now that cycle tracks may be used by cyclists and pedestrians as well as mobility scooter or wheelchair users.

Highway Code: new hierarchy of road users. Infographic: PA Graphics
Highway Code: new hierarchy of road users. Infographic: PA Graphics

“Another welcome clarification: when turning or changing lanes drivers should not unsafely cut across cyclists and cause them to swerve, even if those cyclists are using a cycle lane or cycle track. Furthermore, both drivers and cyclists should give way to pedestrians who are waiting to cross side roads or Zebra crossings; it is no longer necessary for pedestrians to first step into the road to be rightfully given priority.

“In summary: 'people who are changing direction should give way to people who are going straight'. Most drivers intuitively understand that concept when interacting with other drivers, and now they will be expected to give the same consideration to cyclists and pedestrians. This brings the UK into line with road rules in peer countries.

“We expect that all road designs and cycling infrastructure will be guided by this improved Highway Code and the government's cycling design manual, Local Transport Note 1/20. We also look forward to seeing many existing roads and simple priority junctions be updated with changes to paintwork that clearly indicate that pedestrians and cyclists moving along the main road have the same priority over side-road traffic as drivers do, in accordance with the updated Highway Code.”

Changes have been made to the Highway Code. Picture: Chris Radburn PA
Changes have been made to the Highway Code. Picture: Chris Radburn PA

The changes are due to come into place on Saturday (January 29) pending parliamentary approval to introduce a risk-based hierarchy of road users.

Some 33 per cent of motorists polled for the AA said they did not know the Highway Code is being revamped, including 4 per cent who have “no intention” of looking at the details.

More than 13,700 drivers were questioned between January 8 and 18 for the survey, which was shared with the PA news agency.

The AA accused the Government of being “far too silent” on the changes, but the Department for Transport (DfT) insisted it will ensure “all road users are aware”.

Provisional DfT figures show 4,290 pedestrians and 4,700 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in crashes on Britain’s roads in the year to the end of June 2021.

A DfT spokesman said: “The proposed upcoming changes to the Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and were announced to national press.

“The department has established a working group of key organisations to ensure that messages about the changes are as widespread as possible and our well-established Think! campaign will continue to ensure all road users are aware both when these changes come into effect and beyond.”

You can read the guidance in full here.

Additional reporting by PA News.


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