New Highway Code amendments challenge ‘might is right’ mindset on UK roads

New Highway Code amendments challenge ‘might is right’ mindset on UK roads

Latest amendments to the Highway Code were laid before parliament today in a move which Cycling UK says should make "the roads safer for everyone."
  • Cycling UK commends introduction of “hierarchy of road users” on all road users
  • Other Highway Code changes include guidance on safe overtaking of cyclists, promotion of the ‘dutch reach’ and new rules around non-signalised junctions

Cycling UK welcomes the government’s latest amendments to the Highway Code that were presented to MPs and Lords in parliament today (Wednesday, 01 December).

The charity, which has campaigned for an update of the Highway Code for the last ten years, says once these changes are part of the code they should make the roads safer for everyone.

The amendments were laid before parliament as a Statutory Instrument. Subject to scrutiny by peers and MPs, they will become law and an official part of the Highway Code in 40 parliamentary days’ time.

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

“These amendments bring not just much needed clarity on key areas of reducing danger on our roads, such as safe overtaking distances of people walking, cycling or horse riding, but also through the new ‘hierarchy of road users’ challenges the current mindset that ‘might is right’ on our roads.

“It enshrines in law the need for those who present the most risk on our roads to look out for those who are the most vulnerable. This can only make the roads safer for everyone.”

The introduction of a hierarchy of road users recognises in law that those who pose the greatest risk 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

“Over 16,000 people backed the amendments Cycling UK called for when the government consulted on improving the Highway Code for vulnerable road users in 2020,” said Mr Dollimore. “Today we’re seeing many of these a step closer to becoming a reality, and we commend the Department for Transport for listening and making these important changes.”

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 publicity@cyclinguk.org. Out of hours, call 07786 320 713

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. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. For more information on Cycling UK’s Highway Code campaign, visit: www.cyclinguk.org/highwaycodecampaign
  3. The proposed alterations to The Highway Code are available online: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1037309/the-highway-code-alteration-to-the-highway-code.pdf
  4. Cycling UK campaigned for 10 key changes, a breakdown is available at: https://www.cyclinguk.org/sites/default/files/document/2020/07/highway_code_10_key_changes.pdf
  5. To watch Cycling UK’s short film explaining the needed changes on junction priority visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCU-cDOcRIE
  6. For more information including a short film on Cycling UK’s campaigning on close passes visit: https://www.cyclinguk.org/campaign/toocloseforcomfort
  7. For more information including a short film on Cycling UK’s campaigning on car dooring visit: https://www.cyclinguk.org/dutchreach

Cycling UK road safety films

How to make junctions safer for everyone

The Dutch Reach #TeachTheReach (Virtual Reality)

Too Close for Comfort: a virtual reality guide to overtaking cyclists safely

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