On 29 January 2022 the Highway Code was updated to improve the safety of all road users, in particular, people walking, cycling, and riding horses.
Here, we list six of the important changes, each with a diagram highlighting the new rules.
Change 1: Hierarchy of road users
There are three new rules to the hierarchy of road users. The hierarchy places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top. Drivers of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce danger to others, and are therefore placed lower on the hierarchy.
It’s important that road users:
1. Are aware of The Highway Code
2. Are considerate to other road users
3. Understand their responsibility for the safety of others
The hierarchy does not remove the need for all road users to behave responsibly, considerately, and safely.
Change 2: Positioning in the road when cycling
The guidance for cyclists when positioning themselves has been updated to include:
- Riding in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowings.
- Keeping at least 0.5 metres (just over 1.5 feet) away from the kerb edge (and further where it is safer) when riding on busy roads with vehicles moving faster than them
There is also new information for group cycling. Cyclists riding in groups:
- Should be considerate of the needs of other road users when riding in groups
- Can ride 2 abreast – and it can be safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders
Cyclists need to be aware of people driving behind them and allow them to overtake when it’s safe to do so.
People cycling past parked cars are asked to take care, leaving enough room (a door’s width or 1 metre) to avoid being hit if a car door is opened.
Cyclists are to watch out for people walking into their path.
Change 3: Overtaking when driving or cycling
There is updated guidance on safe passing distances and speeds for people driving or riding a motorcycle.
When overtaking vulnerable road users, people driving cars or riding a motorcycle must:
- Leave at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph, and giving them more space when overtaking at higher speeds
- Pass people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph and allowing at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space
- Allow at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space and keep to a low speed when passing people walking in the road
Drivers may cross a double-white line if necessary and providing the road is clear, to overtake someone cycling or riding a horse if they are travelling at 10 mph or less.
The updated code confirms that people cycling may pass slower-moving or stationary traffic on their right or left.
Change 4: Cycling, riding a horse, and driving horse-drawn vehicles on roundabouts
People driving a motor vehicle or riding a motorcycle should give priority to people cycling on roundabouts.
People driving and or riding a motorcycle should:
- not attempt to overtake people cycling within that person’s lane
- allow people cycling to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout
Drivers should take extra care when entering a roundabout to make sure they do not cut across people cycling, riding a horse, or driving a horse-drawn vehicle who are
continuing around the roundabout in the left-hand lane.
Change 5: Walking, cycling, or riding in shared spaces
People cycling, riding a horse, or driving a horse-drawn vehicle should respect the safety of people walking in shared spaces, but people walking should also take care not to obstruct or endanger them.
People cycling are asked to:
- not pass people walking, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle closely or at high speed, particularly from behind
- slow down when necessary and let people walking know they are there (for example, by ringing their bell)
- remember that people walking may be deaf, blind or partially sighted
- not pass a horse on the horse’s left
Change 6: Crossing the road and cycling at junctions
People crossing the road at junctions
Pedestrians waiting to cross at a zebra crossing should be given right of way by people driving, riding a motorcycle or cycling (previously you only had to give way if they’re already on the crossing).
Pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing should be given right of way.
When pedestrians are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic including drivers, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists should give way.
If people have started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, the people crossing have priority and the traffic should give way.
People cycling at junctions
Some junctions now include small cycle traffic lights at eye-level height, which may allow cyclists to move separately from or before other traffic. People cycling should proceed as if they were driving a vehicle where there are no separate cyclist facilities.
People cycling have priority when going straight ahead at junctions.
The code clarifies that when people cycling are going straight ahead at a junction, they have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of a side road, unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise.
People cycling are asked to watch out for people driving intending to turn across their path, as people driving ahead may not be able to see them.