“New Highway Code review on right path for safer cycling” says Cycling UK

New proposals to amend the Highway Code could make close passing a thing of the past
Cycling UK calls on the Government to improve guidance on overtaking of cyclists and ‘car dooring’
  • Cycling UK says wider and holistic Highway Code review needed
  • New Highway Code consultation looks at 'car-dooring' and safe overtaking of cyclists

Cycling UK today (Tuesday, 19 December) called on the Department for Transport to make cycling safer as proposed amendments to the Highway Code look at the overtaking of cyclists by drivers and 'car-dooring'. The charity also pointed out a “holistic, not piecemeal, review of the entire Highway Code” is needed.

With cars becoming increasingly automated, the Government has recognised the need for updates to the Highway Code to keep up with the advances in technology. The last full scale review of the Highway Code occurred in 2007.

Their latest consultation: “Remote control parking and motorway assist: proposals for amending regulations and the Highway Code” will therefore look at the changes needed to allow parking of cars via a remote device.

As part of the consultation, it will look to alter the rules currently affecting the overtaking of cyclists (Rule 160) and 'car-dooring' (Rule 239), two areas which Cycling UK has argued need updating.

Rule 160 advises that drivers should:

  • be aware of other road users, especially cycles and motorcycles who may be filtering through the traffic. These are more difficult to see than larger vehicles and their riders are particularly vulnerable. Give them plenty of room, especially if you are driving a long vehicle or towing a trailer

Cycling UK believes the phrasing “Give them plenty of room” is too open for interpretation, and wants greater clarity and guidance on the gap drivers should leave when overtaking cyclists.

Close passes, sometimes referred to as 'near misses', account for a third of threatening encounters cyclists have with motor vehicles according to research by Dr Rachel Aldred’s Near Miss project. They present a significant barrier for people new to cycling, or who cycle at a more sedate pace (< 8mph). The project found close passes are particularly a problem for women, who on average cycle more slowly than men, and experienced a 50 per cent higher rate of close passes.

Rule 239 states:

  • you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic

Cycling UK would like to see guidance introduced for drivers and other vehicle occupants to use the “wrong” hand to open the door before getting out of the vehicle, forcing them turn and look properly before doing so (the so-called “Dutch reach”). Between 2011 and 2015, there were 3,108 reported collisions where “vehicle door opened or closed negligently” was recorded as a contributing factor in incidents attended by the police.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns and Advocacy said:

“Whether it was the intention or not, the new Highway Code review is on the right path for safer cycling. It gives government the opportunity to address two of the greatest dangers to vulnerable road users: close passing and car-dooring.

“However, to make the roads safer for everyone, it is clear the scale of this consultation is too limited.

“What’s needed as we move towards increased motor vehicle automation is a holistic, not piecemeal, review of the entire Highway Code, something which could and should have dovetailed with the long promised review of all road traffic offences and penalties that we were promised in May 2014 by then Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling MP." 


Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. The Department for Transport's consultation is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/remote-control-parking-and-…;
  3. 'Car dooring' is a criminal offence under Regulation 105 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1986/1078/regulation/105/made  and Section 42 Road Traffic Act 1988 http://www.cyclistsdefencefund.org.uk/the-law-for-cyclists-hit-by-vehicle-doors. However this offence is only punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 and no penalty points can be imposed on the offender’s licence.  
  4. For further information on the Dutch Reach and Cycling UK’s position see: https://www.cyclinguk.org/blog/samjones/dutch-reach
  5. There were 3108 reported collisions where ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ was a contributing factor in incidents attended by the police between 2011 and 2015. The breakdown below were released following a FOI from Cycling UK to the Department for Transport requesting a breakdown of the “Contributory factors for reported road accidents (RAS50)” see RAS50007 specifically https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras50-contributory-factors            


2011-2015 Vehicle door opened negligently: Casualties (GB)



% of all road users

Road user type























Pedal cyclist









Motor cyclist


















* includes drivers etc.

  1. Cyclist Robert Hamilton was killed in January 2014, when driver Joanne Jackson opened the driver’s door of her car in front of Robert as he was cycling along Linaker Street in Southport. Jackson was prosecuted for a car-dooring offence and fined £305.
  2. Cyclist Sam Harding was killed https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle/car-door-dangers  in August 2012, when driver Kenan Aydogdu opened his car door in front of Harding on London's Holloway Road. Given that this was not a 'driving offence', and the maximum penalty for car dooring was only £1000, the Crown Prosecution Service brought a 'manslaughter' prosecution against him, but he was acquitted despite his windows being coated with dark plastic film, reducing visibility in and out of the car to 17% of their normal level. He was fined £200 for the car-dooring offence.
  3. Cyclist Sam Boulton was killed on 27 July 2016 outside of Leicester Train station, when passenger of a private hire vehicle, Ms Chapple opened her door, knocking Sam off his bicycle and into the path of an oncoming Citroen van. Sam sustained fatal injuries and tragically died later that day, his 26th birthday. Ms Chapple, pleaded guilty to the crime of car dooring on 03 March 2017, and was handed a £150 fine, broken down as £80 for the offence, a £40 victim surcharge and £30 court costs. https://www.cyclinguk.org/press-release/2017-03-03/car-dooring-offence-must-taken-seriously The driver, Farook Yusuf Bhikhu, had parked illegally on a double yellow line, and was convicted of the offence of ‘car-dooring’ in Loughborough Magistrates Court on 05 June. He was handed a £955 fine, broken down as £300 for the offence, a £30 victim surcharge and £625 court costs, to be paid in £20 weekly instalments. Bhikhu is currently appealing this.
  4. A “car-dooring” incident is available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7aUG02uHo0 This was supplied to Cycling UK by Olukayode Ibrahim, from an incident on 04/09/2017, 78 - 80 Tower Bridge Road, London.   
  5. Cycling UK’s #TooCloseForComfort campaign specifically addressed concerns about close passes by supplying every police force in the UK with tools to educate drivers about near misses: https://www.cyclinguk.org/campaign/toocloseforcomfort​
  6. The Government’s announcement of a full review of road traffic offences and penalties made in May 2014 is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/justice-for-victims-of-banned-drivers

Press contact information

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315 / 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org