What’s the highway code?

The Highway Code is full of information, advice, guides and mandatory rules for road users in the UK. It aims to promote road safety.

The Highway Code applies to all road users including pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists, as well as motorcyclists and drivers.

Changes to the highway code are coming into play this month. The main theme of the changes is to establish a hierarchy of users.

The new hierarchy of road users is formed around the vehicles that present the most harm. Cyclists are now recognised as providing the 2nd least amount of harm after pedestrians. Show below:

Department of transport priority of road users

The new hierarchy is behind all of the changes to the highway code. We’ve listed the main changes for cyclists below. But we recommend you check the full Highway Code for the exact wording and the changes for motorists.

Or you can check out our quick-start guide to the existing highway code for cyclists.

What are the key changes that affect cyclists?

1. Cyclists should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross at junctions. This includes zebra crossings.

2. There are a few updates on ‘shared spaces’. Like paths, byways and roads. Cyclists are asked:

  • Not to pass horse riders or pedestrians at speed
  • Slow down and let walkers know of their presence
  • Remember that people walking could be blind, deaf, or partially sighted
  • Not pass on a horse’s left

3. There are also some updates on road position when cycling. Cyclists should:

  • Ride in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slow-moving traffic, and at junctions
  • Keep 0.5m from the kerb edge
  • If you ride in a group ride 2 abreast, particularly when in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders
  • Be aware of motorists behind when in a group, allowing them to overtake when it is safe to do so
  • Take care when passing parked vehicles, allowing space for an open car door

4. Cyclists should position themselves in the centre of the road at junctions when they feel safe to do so

5. Cyclists will have priority when going straight ahead at junctions

In summary

The changes to the highway code aren’t huge. They’re all common sense. So hopefully the established hierarchy for UK roads will make cycling safer in future.

As for now, we just have to weather the social media storm and enjoy the ride.

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