A number of rules have been introduced to the Highway Code which take effect from Saturday 29 January.

The changes follow a public consultation on a review of the Code to improve road safety for people walking, cycling and riding horses.

It ran from July to October 2020, and received more than 20,000 responses from the public, businesses and other organisations.

The new rules set out to further protect cyclists and pedestrians using the roads. This will be of particular relevance to residents in Bridgend County Borough, where over £3m has been invested in the council’s active travel scheme which will offer greater choice for residents who wish to use alternative ways of getting around such as cycling or walking.

Cllr Stuart Baldwin, Cabinet Member for Communities, Bridgend County Borough Council, welcomed the changes, saying:

“Active travel networks are becoming increasingly popular and are destined to be a prominent local infrastructure feature nation-wide.

“As such, these changes to the Highway Code are particularly relevant and will make steps towards making active travel options safer for cyclists, pedestrians and riding horses. This will hopefully encourage more people to take up active travel as an alternative to getting into a car for example.”

The eight rule changes include giving pedestrians priority when crossing road junctions, giving cyclists priority when passing a car as well as when cars are turning, at junctions and roundabouts, guidance for cyclists about road positioning, a new hierarchy of road users, guidance about spaces shared by cyclists, pedestrians and horses and permission to cross double-white lines if necessary, to pass cyclists or horses.

It also recommends a new technique when leaving vehicles known as the ‘Dutch Reach’ where people opening car doors using the hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. This will make them turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them, making them less likely to cause injury to cyclists and people on the pavement.

Shalini Kumar, CIHT’s Infrastructure Advisor called for a need for the UK Government to make road users aware of the rules, saying:

“It is important that road users are aware of the changes made to the highway code, with the hierarchy of road users giving priority towards pedestrians and cyclists. It is key road users implement this change so that pedestrians and cyclists can feel safer when participating in active travel, which is vital to the nation’s decarbonisation plan.”

A full list of the new rule changes can be found on the UK Government website