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At the start of the year, the biggest update to the Highway Code in four years has been put into place to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, giving them more authority on the roads. Below are 8 of the new changes to the Highway Code that you should know.

  1. Hierarchy of road users – Vehicle drivers that can cause the most harm in the event of an accident should take the most responsibility to take caution and minimise the danger to others on the road. This strongly applies to drivers of LGVs, HGVs, cars and motorcycles. Horse riders and cyclists should also bear responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians as they are more vulnerable.
  2. Priority for pedestrians at junctions – Whilst at a junction, motorcyclists, drivers, cyclists and horse riders should give way to pedestrians who are already crossing or who are waiting to cross a road which you are turning into or coming out of.

You should also give way to pedestrians waiting at a zebra crossing, as well as cyclists and pedestrians who are waiting to cross at a parallel crossing.

  1. Walking, cycling and riding horses in shared spaces – People who are cycling or riding a horse should respect pedestrians walking in these spaces. People cycling or riding a horse shouldn’t pass walking pedestrians at a high speed, they should slow down when necessary and consider that pedestrians may be deaf or blind.

Those riding horses should also not pass another horse rider on the horse’s left hands side.

  1. Cycling position in the road – Cyclists are allowed to ride in the middle of their lane on quieter roads, when approaching junctions and in in slow moving traffic. They should also keep a minimum of 1.5 metres away from the edge of the kerb when riding on busier roads.

Cyclists riding in groups should be considerate of other road users and ride 2 abreast, as this can be safer to do so in larger groups or when riding with less experienced cyclists. Cyclists should also be considerate of drivers behind them by moving into a single file when safe to do so.

  1. Overtaking whilst driving and cycling – Drivers are able to cross a double-white line where necessary to overtake someone riding a horse or cycling if they are travelling at less than 10mph.

Vehicles on the road should leave a minimum of 1.5 meters when overtaking those cycling if they are driving at speeds of up to 30mph, and even more space when driving over 30mph. Vehicles passing pedestrians walking at the side of a road or horses at speeds up to 10mph should leave at least 2 metres of space when overtaking.

Cyclists can pass stationary and slower moving traffic on both the right and left-hand side but should proceed with caution when approaching junctions or passing large vehicles.

  1. Priority for cyclists at junctions – You should not cut across horse riders, cyclists or horse drawn carriages when you are changing direction, changing lane or coming in and out of a junction.

Whether they are using a cycle track, cycle lane or riding on the road, vehicle drivers should still give way to them. Do not turn at a junction if you were to cause a horse rider or cyclist to swerve or stop, you should wait for a safe gap to turn at a junction.

  1. Horse riders, cyclists and drivers at roundabouts – People driving a vehicle or riding a motorbike should give priority to those cycling on roundabouts, not attempting to overtake, enabling them to move across their path as they cycle around the roundabout.
  2. Parking, Charging and leaving vehicles – The code recommends a new method of opening the car door from the inside with the opposite hand to encourage drivers and passengers to look over their shoulder behind them. By doing this it limits injury to cyclists, horse riders, bikers and pedestrians passing who are by.

Those who are using an electric vehicle charging point should park closely to avoid creating a trip hazard, display a warning sign where possible and return the charging cables correctly to minimise danger to other road users.

It is essential that you know The Highway Code when driving, cycling, riding a horse and even walking around because many of the rules in the codes are legal requirements. Failure to obey these rules means you are committing a criminal offence. Read the updated version of The Highway Code here on GOV.UK.

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