28 January 2022

The Green Party welcomes the updates to the highway code which clarify the situation for cyclists and pedestrians among other changes. Active travel is central to any plan to rescue our planet from the climate emergency, and any policies that enable people to choose active travel are welcome. 


We have summarised the key changes below. Please see here for the full update.  


There are 8 new rules which come into effect on 29/1/22;

H1 Rule for all road users - new hierarchy of road users

H2 Rule for drivers, motorcyclists, horse drawn vehicles, horse riders and cyclists - priority for pedestrians at junctions

H3 Rule for drivers and motorcyclists - new priority for cyclists when vehicles are turning

63 Sharing space with pedestrians, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles

72 Road positioning

73 Junctions

75 Two stage turns

76 Going straight ahead


Many of the new rules serve to formalise common practice but there are some important and welcome changes benefitting vulnerable users such as cyclists, pedestrians and horses.


Although these new highway code rules are advisory rather than Law (i.e. generally using terms such as "should" rather than "must"), they could be used to establish culpability in the event of an accident, and offenders could be landed with a £1000 fine.


Summary of the most significant rule changes;

1. Rule H1 - Vehicles are ranked in a hierarchy according to greatest harm; HGVs, LGVs, cars, motorcycles, cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians. Accordingly, vehicles/users higher up in this hierarchy have the greater responsibility for taking care to those lower down, although this does not excuse any vehicles/users for not taking reasonable care regardless of hierarchy.

2. Rule H2 - Vehicles should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross when turning at junctions. Previously, vehicles had priority except when the pedestrian had already started to cross the road.

3. Rule H3 - Cyclists either side of vehicles have priority when the vehicles are turning across the cyclist's path.


Summary of other rule changes and clarifications;

1. Cyclists are advised to cycle in the centre of the lane in certain situations if safe to do so. This is merely a formalisation of common current practice such as that recommended by the Government's Bikeability scheme (previously Cycle Proficiency).

2. Cyclists are not obliged to use cycle lanes even when they're present. This merely a formalisation of common current practice.

3. Cyclists may ride two abreast and it can be safer to do so. This is clearer than the previous advice never to ride more than two abreast, and single file on narrow or busy roads.

4. Drivers should allow 1.5m of space when overtaking a cyclist. This is clearer than previous advice that vehicles ahould allow as much space for cyclists as they would for other vehicles when overtaking.