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Highway Code changes: Do I need to give priority to cyclists? New rules explained

Posted on 30/03/21 |

The Highway Code is to undergo a major shakeup that all drivers need to be aware of.

New rules will be added to the UK’s Highway Code on January 29, 2022, depending on final approval from Parliament.

A total of 49 existing rules are to be updated with new amendments as well.

The full Highway Code is more than 150 pages long with more than 300 rules.

But there are three main amendments everyone needs to take note of.

The table of amendments reads: “It is important that all road users are aware of The Highway Code and are considerate towards each other. This applies to pedestrians as much as to drivers and riders.”

According to the Department for Transport, the key amendments to the code are:

  • Introducing a hierarchy of road users to ensure those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.
  • Clarifying existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements to advise that drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road.
  • Providing guidance on cyclist priority at junctions to advise drivers to give priority when travelling straight ahead.

Cyclists will be given new priorities at junctions in the updated Code

H1 - New hierarchy of road users

  • Drivers of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm bear a higher responsibility to take care and not cause danger to other road users.
  • At the bottom of the hierarchy is pedestrians, and at the top are HGV drivers.
  • The change essentially means the larger the moving vessel, the more responsibility it bears.
  • For example, car drivers will have more responsibility than cyclists and pedestrians, but HGV drivers will have more responsibility than cars.

H2 - New priority at junctions

  • Drivers, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists must give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into or from which you are turning.
  • You must also give way to pedestrians at a zebra crossing, even when they have not begun to cross.
  • You should also give way to pedestrians and cyclists at parallel crossings.

H3 - New priority for cyclists when cars are turning

  • The new rules mean drivers cannot cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse-drawn vehicles when you are turning in or out of a junction or changing lanes.
  • The new rule applies wherever they are on the road - whether they are in the cycle lane or track, or riding ahead.
  • You should not turn into or out of a junction if it would cause the cyclist or horse rider to slow down or swerve.

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