Drivers Will Be Forced To Give Cyclists 'More Priority' On Roads From Next Week
| Last updated
Changes to the Highway Code will come into force next week which will give cyclists and pedestrians greater protection on the roads.
The Department of Transport will publish new rules on 29 January which include a 'hierarchy of road users' and this will mean that drivers could face £200 ($270) fines and six points on their licence if they don't follow the rules.
Drivers will be told they need to prioritise cyclists and pedestrians with the idea being that the law will require those who can do the greatest harm to others to have a higher level of responsibility to reduce the danger.
This means for example that someone driving will have more responsibility to watch out for people cycling, walking or riding a horse, and cyclists will have more responsibility to be aware of pedestrians.
Other key amendments to the Highway Code include clearer guidance for drivers to leave a minimum distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists, and instructing drivers to give way to pedestrians waiting to cross roads at junctions.
There will also be a recommendation for car users to reduce the risk of opening a door into the path of a cyclist by using the hand on the opposite side to the door, as this will often lead to them looking over their shoulder.
Cycling UK’s head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore expressed concern that the revisions to the Highway Code 'are not being communicated', and 'will be of limited benefit if the public aren’t aware of them'.
He said: “Many people won’t have read the Highway Code for years so it’s essential that the key changes are clearly explained, with simple, accurate and memorable messages.
“These changes have legal implications. Just as we saw with the introduction of other road safety measures like mandatory seat belts and stricter drink driving laws, the public needs to be accurately informed about the new rules.
“The hierarchy of responsibility and changes to junction priority need to be explained and communicated properly, regardless of whether or not everyone agrees with them.”
A DfT spokesman said: “The proposed upcoming changes to the Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and were announced to national press.
“The department has established a working group of key organisations to ensure that messages about the changes are as widespread as possible and our well-established Think! campaign will continue to ensure all road users are aware both when these changes come into effect and beyond.”