Image for The rules of the road are changing in Great Britain, benefiting walkers and cyclists

The rules of the road are changing in Great Britain, benefiting walkers and cyclists

The Highway Code is being overhauled to sustain the increase in active travel seen during the pandemic

The Highway Code is being overhauled to sustain the increase in active travel seen during the pandemic

Changes to the Highway Code in Great Britain will put pedestrians at the top of a new road user hierarchy, giving them priority over cars at junctions and crossings. 

The revised code is due to come into effect in the autumn, pending parliamentary approval. It will apply in England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has its own version of the code. 

The changes will also benefit cyclists, giving them priority over motor vehicles when travelling straight on at junctions.

The main feature of the revised code is the ‘hierarchy of responsibility’. It means that road users with the greatest potential to cause harm will have the greatest responsibility to reduce the threat they pose to others.

“The Highway Code currently treats children walking to school and lorry drivers as if they are equally responsible for their own or other people’s safety,” said Stephen Edwards, interim CEO of the charity Living Streets. “These changes will redress that balance.”

He added: “Whether we choose to also drive or cycle, we are all pedestrians. These proposed revisions will benefit us all.” 

The Highway Code is changing in Great Britain, benefitting walkers and cyclists

Cyclists will get priority over cars when going straight on at junctions. Image: Pedal Me

The changes were criticised by the Alliance of British Drivers, which argues that road safety should be a shared responsibility.

The Department of Transport said that the Highway Code overhaul, along with an extra £338m to boost active travel, will help to sustain the increase in walking and cycling seen during the pandemic.

The funding, it added, would go towards building hundreds of miles of cycle lanes.

Main image: Volkan Olmez

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