What do the Highway Code changes mean for cyclists?

The 2022 updates to the UK Highway Code

The Highway Code will be introducing new changes from January 29th 2022. These changes, brought in by the Department for Transport, aim to improve the safety for all road users. Part of the update to the Highway Code will be a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’, which creates stronger priorities for vulnerable road users, including cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.

What is changing?

There are three main rules being introduced as part of the update to the Highway Code. These changes can be summarised as:

1. Hierarchy of Road Users

The biggest change to the Highway Code is the introduction of the ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’. This sorts road users based on how much potential harm they could cause. Large vehicles are considered to have the most responsibility on the road, while pedestrians are the most at risk according to the hierarchy.

2. Clearer and stronger priorities for pedestrians

Pedestrians crossing a road and using a zebra crossing now have priority, in a rule that will affect motorists, cyclists and horse riders. The new wording will mean that road users who are turning into a junction will now have to give priority to pedestrians who are either crossing or preparing to cross. Pedestrians who are waiting to use a zebra crossing will also have priority, meaning that road users who are approaching will need to stop to let them pass.

3. Drivers giving priority to cyclists

Road users will need to give priority to cyclists when either turning into, or out of a junction, as part of the latest updates. Road users will need to stop and give way to cyclists in each of these three circumstances:

The rules will also include advice for drivers on the ‘Dutch Reach’ technique, which helps drivers open the door of their vehicle while looking over their shoulder to spot oncoming cyclists.

The new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’

Highway Code Hierarchy of Road Users

The hierarchy of road users categorises road users who are most at risk to those who are most responsible for the safety of others when on the road. For example, pedestrians are those who are most likely to be injured in a collision, while HGV drivers can cause the greatest harm on the road.

Why is the Highway Code being changed?

According to government statistics, over 16,000 cyclists were injured on UK roads in 2020. More than 4,000 of those cyclists were seriously injured, with 141 sadly killed. During 2020, there was a 41% rise in the number of cyclists fatally injured in the UK.


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