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Highway code changes welcomed by cyclists

A cycling campaigner has welcomed changes to the highway code, which came into effect last Saturday.

The new version introduces eight new rules as well as 49 updates to existing rules. The amendments place a greater emphasis on the responsibility of drivers.

Other changes include a new hierarchy of road users so that the vulnerable, such as cyclists and pedestrians, are prioritised to improve safety.

Sandbach man Matthias Bunte, a representative of Cycling UK, welcomed the shake-up to the road users’ rulebook.

He said: “I’m very pleased about the changes to the code. It registers a hierarchy of users and should ensure relative responsibility from one group to the next.

“If they are implemented and monitored, if not enforced, it would be very beneficial for the residents of Sandbach.

“There’s greater support for cyclists now. Last year, the local authority in conjunction with the police ran an excellent scheme, which raised awareness about the need for road users to overtake wide.”

One of the changes to the highway code is the space cars should allow for cyclists when overtaking, which is 1.5m at 30mph, the gap widening as speeds increase.

Vehicle occupants now have to use their left hand to open the door on their right-hand side and vice versa, the so-called Dutch reach. This is so that they turn their head to look over their shoulder, reducing the likelihood of causing injury to anyone passing.


Peter Hall, the former chair of Active Travel Congleton, which works to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians, said there should be more awareness of the highway code alterations.

“What we’re concerned about within Active Travel is that it hasn’t been publicised so much. People need to be aware of the changes.

“If everyone adheres to it, the roads will be safer for Congleton’s residents. For example, if you’re walking down the road and want to cross a side road, the law will be that any vehicle will have to give way to you.”

Mr Hall added: “There aren’t many changes. The main thing is the introduction to the hierarchy, which will bring us in line with Europe. It’s standard practice there and it has been for years.”

Other rules that have been introduced include cyclists being advised to take care when overtaking pedestrians and horses by slowing down and alerting them using their bell.

The new code also states that motorists “should not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane”.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were an estimated 1,390 reported road deaths in the year ending June 2021, a decrease of 11% on the previous year.

In 2020, 141 cyclists were killed in Great Britain – the largest recorded fatalities in more than a decade (2006).

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