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Pushing Pedals: Do You Know Your Highway Code? Time To Re-load!

Published on: 12 Feb, 2022
Updated on: 14 Feb, 2022

This is the monthly column on local cycling by the Guildford Bicycle User Group (G-BUG). Its vision is to make cycling in Guildford safer, more convenient and fun. Members share a passion for making the borough more accessible through increased cycling.

By Bridie Sullivan

Last month marked the launch of the most significant update to the UK’s Highway Code in over a decade.

But after a flurry of press announcements, the details of what has changed has gone relatively unnoticed. A recent poll by the AA concluded over a third of motorists were not aware of the new rules.

The aim is to protect cyclists and pedestrians, the more vulnerable road users.

The government website talks about eight changes to The Highway Code. It amounts to around 50 rules being added or revised. An updated printed copy is scheduled for April this year.

Notable rule changes include, Rule H1, introducing a hierarchy for road users and placing responsibility in law on drivers to look out for pedestrians, especially children, disabled or older adults, cyclists and horse-riders.

The remaining hierarchy is motorcyclists, cars, vans and large passenger or heavy goods vehicles in that order.

The update to Rule H2, sets out priorities for pedestrians. Drivers and motorcyclists should now give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross at junctions. And cyclists are expected to give way to pedestrians on shared-cycle tracks.

The revisions to Rule H3 say drivers should give priority to cyclists in certain circumstances, such as roundabouts. They are urged to give cyclists priority when turning in or out of a junction or when changing lanes.

They must also keep a safe distance from cyclists at roundabouts or during slow-moving traffic. Drivers are advised to leave 1.5 metres of space when passing cyclists.

Photo by Matt Seymour, courtesy Unsplash.

Whilst there is an expectation cyclists should be considerate of other road users when riding in groups, cyclists can ride side by side. They can position themselves in the centre of a lane in slower-moving traffic, on quiet roads and at the approach to junctions or where a road narrows.

Another recommendation is for car users to reduce the risk of opening a door into the path of a cyclist by using the hand furthest from the door. Known as the The Dutch Reach, it means you look over your shoulder when opening the car door.

The updates reflect a huge response from the public 21,000 responses to the consultation, largely in support of the changes. Over 60 per cent of respondents categorised themselves as motorists.

The changes to The Highway Code is the result of one of the most successful cycle campaigns in over a decade. Many thanks must go to Cycling UK, a national charity based in Guildford, who encouraged over 16,000 supporters to lend their voices to the campaign. Have a look at their Highway Code campaign page.

Visit G-BUG’s website for more about how you can get involved and raise awareness of the need for better cycling infrastructure to support the UK’s new rules of the road.

Safe Cycling


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Responses to Pushing Pedals: Do You Know Your Highway Code? Time To Re-load!

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    February 13, 2022 at 10:48 pm

    As a pedestrian and driver, I welcome these changes. Every road (or pavement) user should make themselves aware of the changes – but be careful – not everyone will be aware or agree with them and staying safe is the main thing. A keyword is “should” as there may be circumstances where a driver (or cyclist) should act differently.

    I would appreciate confirmation from guide dog owners on the appropriate action for a driver (or cyclist) turning into a side road where a blind person is waiting to cross.

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