Changes to the Highway Code were introduced on January 29th for England, Scotland and Wales. These changes have been made to ensure a safer journey for walkers, horse riders and cyclists.
VeloChampion has broken down the key 5 takeaways from these latest Highway Code changes to further encourage more walking and cycling.
Hierarchy of Responsibility
Whereas in the past, walkers and cyclists had to give way to bigger vehicles, this has now changed. The hierarchy of responsibility requires that any vehicle with a greater risk to others should bear greater responsibility and the illustration from Cycling UK clearly shows the hierarchy of responsibility in action.
Priority at Junctions
More than 70% of collisions happen at or near a junction*. When approaching a junction on the left, cyclists must give way to walkers crossing the road. If you are turning right, ensure that you are in the centre of the road so other road users can clearly see you. The road hierarchy still applies at junctions; therefore, cars must give way to cyclists crossing a junction. Whoever is going straight ahead has priority and any road users turning into a side road does not have right of way and should allow a cyclist or walker to cross.
Overtaking Road Users
How many times have you been out cycling, and a car of lorry has passed you too close for comfort? This change in the highway code now requires car and lorry drivers to ‘leave cyclists as much room as they would a car.’ A minimum distance of 1.5 metres at speeds under 30mph A minimum distance of 2 metres at speeds over 30mph and for vehicles bigger than cars
The Dutch Reach Technique This change in the highway code will enable a safer exit for the drivers of vehicles and also cyclists overtaking a parked car. This is something that has already been introduced into a number of European countries and now in England, Wales & Scotland. It is an offence to open a car door that injures or endangers anyone. If you are getting out of the driver's side, you must open the driver’s side door with your left hand. This will enable you to easily look over your shoulder to check for any oncoming traffic before exiting the vehicle. Take a look at the Dutch Reach video from Cycling UK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeM984dk220
Use of Cycle Lanes and Bus Lanes
Cyclists are able to use bus lanes as indicated on signs according to Rule 65 of the Highway Code, but cyclists need to be aware of busses slowing down along with passengers entering or exiting the bus. You must not undertake at any time. Whilst cycle lanes have been introduced to improve the safety of cycling, ‘cyclists may exercise their judgement and are not obliged to use them.’
These are the top 5 rules that will make a big impact to your cycling experience. We encourage all cyclists and road users to read the new update on the Highway Code and bear in mind other rules that may affect your cycling experience:
Rule 66 ‘not ride close behind another vehicle in case it stops suddenly.’
Rule 64 ‘you must not cycle on a pavement’
Rule 60 ‘at night your cycle must have white front and red rear lights lit’
Cyclists can ride 2 abreast particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders.
We hope that these changes will enable more people to feel safer when commuting to work, cycling as part of a club or encouraging new cyclists to get out on their bike. What do you think of these changes? Let us know on our socials.