Drivers are set to be told to give pedestrians and cyclists priority, in proposed changes to the highway code.

The changes would see drivers requested to allow pedestrians to cross the road and to possibly give cyclists priority at junctions. At present, drivers are simply told to keep an eye on pedestrians that could be about to cross the road.

The consultation included the following proposals:

The consultation document posed a series of questions about our proposals, which covered the following 3 changes:

  • introducing a hierarchy of road users to ensure those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others
  • clarifying existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements and that drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road
  • establishing guidance on safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking cyclists or horse riders, and ensuring they have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead

The consultation ran for 12 weeks before closing on 27 October 2020. It generated a huge response with nearly 21,000 responses received from a range of respondents including government, public and business.

The majority of respondents to the consultation were in favour of all the changes proposed, believing that they would improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. They welcomed the timing of the changes as more people embrace alternative modes of transport, with cycling and walking on the increase.

The government has carried out full analysis of all consultation responses received and, given the feedback received, they will be seeking to introduce all the proposed changes. The government will now look at all the proposed changes afresh to consider what amendments are needed to the proposed wording to take account of the valid comments received. In discussion with relevant stakeholders, they will finalise the text and produce a revised version of The Highway Code that will improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.