New Highway Code gives priority to cyclists and pedestrians

Changes are part of a £338 million funding effort to improve ‘active travel’ conditions

Pedestrians and cyclists will be prioritised at road crossings and junctions in a revised version of the Highway Code as part of the government’s £338 million funding effort to improve ‘active travel’ conditions.

The funding, which is 30% higher than in 2020, will contribute to the construction of hundreds of miles of cycle lanes and the delivery of new schemes to encourage walking, the government has said.

New rules are said to “enhance safety of pedestrians and cyclists”. The changes include strengthened pedestrian priority on pavements and when crossing the road, and giving cyclists priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.

“Millions of us have found over the past year how cycling and walking are great ways to stay fit, ease congestion on the roads and do your bit for the environment,” transport secretary Grant Shapps said. “We’re determined to keep that trend going by making active travel easier and safer for everyone.”

Guidance on safe passing distances and speeds will also be improved and updated. The government says changes will be made in line with the rise in cyclist numbers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A hierarchy of road users will also be in place to make sure those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to other road users.

“Cycling has had a real boost during the pandemic as people of all ages have recognised its many benefits and it is a real positive that the government is making cycling such a transport priority for the future,” said Sir Dave Brailsford, team principal of the Ineos Grenadiers cycle racing team.

“Getting on your bike is great for your health and it’s also great for the environment so there has never been a better time to get pedalling,” he said.

The government is also looking to improve safety and accessibility for cycling, including increasing awareness of e-cycles. An e-cycle support programme will launch this year, with nine authorities already receiving funding for e-cycle initiatives.

by Jack Warrick