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Revised Highway Code

The Highway Code has been revised, following extensive consultation, and is due to enter law on 29 January 2022. It aims to make the roads safer for the most vulnerable road users, including people cycling. You can see the full extent of the changes on the government’s website, including a summary table.

Hierarchy of responsibility

A hierarchy of road users has been established, with the most vulnerable in the event of a collision at the top (pedestrians), and vehicles that have the potential to cause the greatest harm (HGVs) at the bottom. Cyclists are beneath pedestrians but above motorcyclists and cars. This raises general awareness of the vulnerability of people cycling and we hope it will lead to all road users being more considerate.

The seafront cycle tracks in Brighton & Hove are a good example, as most of them are on the pavement. When cycling, be ready to stop for pedestrians at all times as the design of the cycle track means that people are often unaware that they’re stepping into it.

Giving way at junctions and crossings

The rules on giving way have been simplified. Drivers and cyclists must give way to pedestrians crossing, or waiting to cross a road they’re waiting to turn into or from.

On shared pedestrian/cycle paths or tracks, cyclists must give way to pedestrians.

Drivers to give way to people cycling

Drivers must not cut across people cycling, or drive in a way that would cause them to swerve. Drivers should stop and wait for a gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary. This includes on the approach to junctions, at roundabouts and when cyclists are moving past or waiting alongside stationary or slow-moving traffic.

This reference to stationary or slow-moving traffic helps to clarify the legitimacy of ‘filtering’ through slow-moving traffic on a bicycle, which some drivers erroneously believe to be illegal.

Drivers in slow-moving traffic should allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross in front of them. At roundabouts, drivers should give priority to cyclists.

If you’re cycling straight ahead at a junction, you have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or from side roads, unless road markings and signage say otherwise.

Clarification of road positioning

Although riding two abreast has never been illegal (contrary to myth), the revised Highway Code excplicitly says that you can ride two abreast and it may be safer to do so, in situations such as accompanying less experienced riders.

There’s also a recommendation to cycle at least a metre or a door’s width from parked vehicles, to avoid being knocked off by a door opening.

Two riding positions are recommended:

  • in the centre of the lane, on quieter streets, at the approach to junctions and in slower-moving traffic
  • to the left of traffic, at least 0.5m from the kerb, on busy roads

Overtaking distances

Drivers must give cyclists at least 1.5m when overtaking at speeds of up to 30mph, and more when travelling at higher speeds.

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