Cycling UK urges Government not to delay promoting Highway Code update

Charity presses for public to be made aware of changes to Highway Code which will make the roads safer for everyone

Cycling UK is calling on the government to ensure the British public are made aware of the forthcoming changes to the Highway Code, saying “now is the time to right the misunderstanding on our roads.”

The new changes are expected to be introduced at the end of January, but the charity is concerned not enough has been done to communicate the changes to the residents of Great Britain,

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said:

“Cycling UK is concerned the forthcoming improvements to road safety outlined in the latest revision of the Highway Code, which will benefit everyone, are not being communicated through official channels. In a month’s time, our Highway Code should change for the better, but these changes will be of limited benefit if the public aren’t aware of them.”

Following an extensive consultation on how to improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, known collectively as vulnerable road users, the changes were laid as a Statutory Instrument in Parliament on 01 December.

When passed, the Highway Code update will include a new hierarchy of road user. For the first time in Britain the law will recognise that those who pose the greatest risk on our roads to others have a higher level of responsibility. This means someone cycling will have greater responsibility to look out for people walking, while someone driving would have greater responsibility to look out for people cycling, walking or riding a horse.

Other key amendments in the new Highway Code include:

  • Clearer guidance for drivers overtaking people cycling to give at least 1.5m
  • Guidance on how drivers and passenger can prevent ‘car-dooring’ cyclists by using the Dutch Reach
  • Simplification on rules related to non-signalised junctions to prevent “left-hook” collisions, bringing Britain in line with similar laws on the European continent

“Many people won’t have read the Highway Code for years, so it’s essential that the key changes are clearly explained, with simple, accurate and memorable messages,” said Mr Dollimore. “These changes have legal implications. Just as we saw with the introduction of other road safety measures like mandatory seat belts and stricter drink driving laws, the public needs to be accurately informed about the new rules. The hierarchy of responsibility and changes to junction priority need to be explained and communicated properly, regardless of whether or not everyone agrees with them.

Now is the time to right the misunderstanding on our roads, not tomorrow when it is too late.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK head of campaigns

“Once the public has been clearly informed about the update, there’s a requirement to bring people on a journey to understand and appreciate why these changes are necessary.”

The charity believes it is imperative for the Highway Code changes to have a long term and well-funded communications campaign behind it to make the roads safer for everyone.

“At Cycling UK far too often we see the potential for conflict that comes from a lack of awareness of the Highway Code,” continued Mr Dollimore. “This puts the most vulnerable on our roads at unforgiveable risk. Now is the time to right the misunderstanding on our roads, not tomorrow when it is too late. Any awareness campaign needs to be viewed in years, not months, and it needs to be well-funded.”


Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often.

Press contact information

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please email or call 07786 320 713.