Highway Code changes: All the new rules in 2021 that will see pedestrians and cyclists in Sheffield get priority on the road

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has unveiled changes to the Highway Code in the UK which would give priority to pedestrians at crossings and put them at the top of a “road user hierarchy”.

By Brogan Maguire
Saturday, 31st July 2021, 7:09 am

It comes as part of a £338m boost from the Department for Transport (DfT) to boost walking and cycling and invest in more sustainable transport methods as part of a greener future.

The DfT said the investment would also be used to cover upgrades to relevant infrastructure, including creating hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes across the country.

The proposed changes are set to be presented to parliament for approval in the autumn.

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UK transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced changes to the Highway Code including new rules on pedestrians and cyclists which will see them given priority at crossings. Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images.

The new rules will ensure cyclists have priority when travelling straight ahead at junctions and more awareness is set to be raised around the dangers of speeding.

Mr Shapps says the changes will make walking and cycling safer and easier, in a bid to encourage people to travel around using more active methods and prioritise their health.

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He said: “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. As we build back greener from the pandemic, we’re determined to keep that trend going by making active travel easier and safer for everyone.

“This £338 million package marks the start of what promises to be a great summer of cycling and walking, enabling more people to make those sustainable travel choices that make our air cleaner and cities greener.”

Amongst the proposals are a hierarchy of road users that ensures “road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others”, as well as “strengthened pedestrian priority on pavements and when crossing or waiting to cross the road” and “guidance on safe passing distances and speeds”.

Sir Dave Brailsford, INEOS Grenadiers Team Principal, added: “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 are making cycling such a transport priority for the future. 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.”

As well as improving safety for cyclists, the government says it is also aiming to make cycling easier and more accessible through a new scheme aiming to increase awareness of e-cycles.

Living Streets the UK charity for everyday walking, has supported the changes to the Highway Code, which it says many of its supporters have called for.

Stephen Edwards, Interim CEO at Living Streets said: “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. These changes will redress that balance.

“People walking cause the least road danger but are often left paying the price, with pedestrians accounting for over a quarter of road deaths. Road users who have potential to cause the greatest harm should take the greatest share of responsibility to reduce the danger they pose.

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