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Changes to the Highway Code

Updated: May 13, 2022

For a while now, the government has been reviewing the Highway Code and looking at refreshing some of the rules focusing on vulnerable road users.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced proposed changes to the Highway Code, which will give pedestrians and cyclists more priority at zebra crossings and junctions.

It is hoped that the proposed changes, which are due to receive parliamentary approval in the autumn, will help raise more awareness about the dangers of speeding.

The Department of Transport (DfT) has announced the changes as part of a £338 million investment package to boost cycling and walking across the country.

Investment would also be used to cover infrastructure upgrades such as the construction of hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes and encourage the public to make “sustainable travel choices” in order to make “air cleaner and cities greener”.

What are the new Highway Code rules?

The new version of the Highway Code will include a “hierarchy of road users” that ensures those who can do the greatest harm, such as those in vehicles, have the “greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others”, the DfT said.

Planned changes include strengthened pedestrian priority on pavements and at zebra crossings and new guidance on safe passing distances and speeds to give cyclists priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.

It is understood the “Dutch reach” method for opening vehicle doors will also be included among the changes, as has been proposed by cycling campaigners to prevent cyclists being hit by opened doors.

It involves drivers and passengers inside cars using their far hand to open a door, rather than the hand closest to it, forcing them to check over their shoulders for approaching cyclists and other traffic before opening.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Millions of us have found over the past year how cycling and walking are great ways to stay fit, ease congestion on the roads and do your bit for the environment.

“As we build back greener from the pandemic, we’re determined to keep that trend going by making active travel easier and safer for everyone.

“This £338 million package marks the start of what promises to be a great summer of cycling and walking, enabling more people to make those sustainable travel choices that make our air cleaner and cities greener.”

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