What changes would you make in the Highway Code?

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  • When did you last read The Highway Code?

    Transport for London are currently consulting on this with a view to pressing the DfT to review the Highway Code in light of new infrastructure being trialed in London (and elsewhere)

    TABS will be putting together a paper on this and we would appreciate your views.
    It would be helpful of you could comment in these 3 areas:
    Things to add
    Things to change

    (I plan to get something back to TfL by mid March)

  • BICYCLE SECTION - My comments in caps.

    Clothing. You should wear
    • a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened
    • appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights
    • light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light
    • reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark.

    At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.
    Law RVLR regs 13, 18 & 24

    Cycle Routes and Other Facilities. Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

    Cycle Tracks. These are normally located away from the road, but may occasionally be found alongside footpaths or pavements. Cyclists and pedestrians may be segregated or they may share the same space (unsegregated). When using segregated tracks you MUST keep to the side intended for cyclists as the pedestrian side remains a pavement or footpath. Take care when passing pedestrians, especially children, older or disabled people, and allow them plenty of room. Always be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary. Take care near road junctions as you may have difficulty seeing other road users, who might not notice you.
    Law HA 1835 sect 72

    Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway (see Rule 140). Keep within the lane when practicable. When leaving a cycle lane check before pulling out that it is safe to do so and signal your intention clearly to other road users. Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

    You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.
    Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129

    Bus Lanes. Most bus lanes may be used by cyclists as indicated on signs. Watch out for people getting on or off a bus. Be very careful when overtaking a bus or leaving a bus lane as you will be entering a busier traffic flow. Do not pass between the kerb and a bus when it is at a stop.

    You should
    • keep both hands on the handlebars except when signalling or changing gear
    • keep both feet on the pedals
    • never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends EXCEPT THIS ONE - SCRAP
    • not ride close behind another vehicle
    • not carry anything which will affect your balance or may get tangled up with your wheels or chain
    • be considerate of other road users, particularly blind and partially sighted OR DEAF OR HEARING IMPAIRED pedestrians. Let them know you are there when necessary, for example, by POLITELY TALKING TO THEM AND NOT ringing your bell if you have one. It is recommended that a bell be fitted. NO.

    You should
    • look all around before moving away from the kerb, turning or manoeuvring, to make sure it is safe to do so. Give a clear signal to show other road users what you intend to do (download ‘Signals to other road users’ (PDF, 102KB))
    • look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, pot-holes and parked vehicles so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened or pedestrians stepping into your path
    • be aware of traffic coming up behind you
    • take extra care near road humps, narrowings and other traffic calming features
    • take care when overtaking (see Rules 162 to 169).
    You MUST NOT
    • carry a passenger unless your cycle has been built or adapted to carry one (CAN WE ASK FOR THIS TO BE SCRAPPED? -TAKES THE FUN OUT OF CYCLING)
    • hold onto a moving vehicle or trailer
    • ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner
    • ride when under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicine.
    Law RTA 1988 sects 24, 26, 28, 29 & 30 as amended by RTA 1991

    You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.
    Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD reg 10(1)

    When parking your cycle
    • find a conspicuous location where it can be seen by passers-by
    • use cycle stands or other cycle parking facilities wherever possible
    • do not leave it where it would cause an obstruction or hazard to other road users
    • secure it well so that it will not fall over and become an obstruction or hazard.

    71 FINE
    You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic (see Rule 178).


    Pay particular attention to long vehicles which need a lot of room to manoeuvre at corners. Be aware that drivers may not see you. (WHY THE HELL NOT?) They may have to move over to the right before turning left. Wait until they have completed the manoeuvre because the rear wheels come very close to the kerb while turning. Do not be tempted to ride in the space between them and the kerb.


    On the right. If you are turning right, check the traffic to ensure it is safe, then signal and move to the centre of the road. Wait until there is a safe gap in the oncoming traffic and give a final look before completing the turn. It may be safer to wait on the left until there is a safe gap or to dismount and push your cycle across the road.


    You may feel safer walking your cycle round on the pavement or verge. (IF THIS IS THE CASE, THEN DEMAND A SAFER ROUNDABOUT DESIGN OR CHANGE TO CROSS ROADS :) If you decide (WHAT?) to ride round keeping to the left-hand lane (THIS IS THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO)

    • you should be aware that drivers may not easily see you (ER, WHY NOT??)
    • take extra care when cycling across exits. You may need to signal right to show you are not leaving the roundabout
    • watch out for vehicles crossing your path to leave or join the roundabout. (DO THEY MEAN GIVE WAY?)



    Take extra care at junctions. You should GIVE WAY NOT JUST watch out for pedestrians crossing a road OR WAITING TO CROSS into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way. SIDE ROAD CROSSINGS (SHOULD) HAVE THE SAME PRIORITY FOR PEDESTRIANS AS ZEBRA CROSSINGS.

    PS Sorry about formatting.

  • Make it legal to enter ASL by crossing the first white line for cyclists.

  • Certainly scrap the 'You should wear a cycle helmet'

    My bugbear at the moment is that cyclists are not treated as vehicles. The police expect us to obey the law but do not treat us thr same way as other vehicles. (See the fact that Andrew Mitchell was expected to get off his vehicle before using the vehicle entrance to Downing street). Drivers do not treat us as vehicles, they do not give us the room a vehicle requires. The law needs clarifying in this respect, The Highway Code may not be the place to do so.

    Rule 59, innaproporaite, certainly the word 'Should' should be removed.

    Rule 60. Amber pedal reflectors? remove it, it is unenforceable.

    Rule 61. Are we a vehicle? or are we not. 'If using infrastructure will make your journey safer then you might consider them as options'

    Rules 68 and 69. If a cycle is a legal vehicle, are these neccessary?

    Rule 71, Scrap it. stopping cyclists going over the stop line is unenforceable and possibly dangerous.

    Add something about lorries and highsided vehicles

    Add something about undertaking any vehicle.

    Rule 163. Add, if you are on a bike make sure you look behind before overtaking.

    Rule 165. Interesting about overtaking on double white lines. Can we emphasise that bikes tend to go faster than 10 mph.

    Signals. please remove the slowing down signal.

    Rule 178. Cyclists hould be allowed to cross the white line if it makes their journey safer. This is especially true if you are in front of a high lorry.

    I think that's it.

  • I completely agree about the advice on what cyclists should wear. I also think the code should back up road positioning so it aligns with bikeability, cyclecraft which it doesn't at present.
    It should also be clearer about the treatment of a cyclist by other road users, there is a such a misunderstanding about the cyclist and the road that is reinforced by the ambiguity of the HC

  • David, will you be previewing the document here before you submit it?

  • Yes @delboy I will post here probably by end of tomorrow and then forward to TfL early next week.

  • Here are some general principles about the HC we plan to incude in our paper. Any though/feedback would be great

    General principles:

    3.1 The introduction to the HC highlights its importance to all road users suggesting that all are considerate to each other and that it
    ‘applies to pedestrians as much as drivers and riders. The
    introduction goes on to outline the legal status of the HC guidance
    explain that rules identified by MUST/MUST NOT are legal requirements.
    The introduction concludes that knowledge and application of the HC
    ‘could significantly reduce road casualties.

    3.2 There ought to be a stronger statement regarding the status and aims of the HC in the introduction. A mission statement which
    establishes some key principles which will inform the tone of
    subsequent guidance. So while it is important that all road users be
    considerate to each other, there needs to be a principle that road
    users capable of causing more harm to others have more responsibility.
    People in motorised vehicles should be responsible for looking out for
    people on bicycles and on foot, people on bicycles should watch out
    for people on foot.

    3.3 A second guiding principle should be to encourage people to use benign means of travel where possible. This in light of issues around
    public health, pollution and how we would like the places we live and
    work to feel like. The HC should suggest that people could consider
    walking or cycling for short trips. This second principle would mean
    the removal of terms like ‘vulnerable road user’ which generally
    refers to people out of cars. That term itself may actually discourage
    people from walking and cycling because by being called vulnerable
    they may perceive the way they move around is more risky than driving.

    3.4 Throughout the HC the term ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’ are used, particular infrastructure is described as hazardous. The word
    ‘traffic’ is used throughout often referring to drivers/road users yet
    dehumanising them . (Rule 19: “Give traffic plenty of time to see
    you”. Rule 74 about turning right states “...check the traffic to
    ensure it is safe … wait for a safe gap...”. Rule 76: “Roundabouts are
    hazardous and should be approached with care” etc). The use of such
    terminology should be avoided. Not only because these terms are vague
    and don’t offer any clear guidance, they also create a sense of
    danger, again to people not in cars, so do not help encourage use of
    benign modes.

    3.5 The status of cyclists need to be clarified. Bicycles are vehicles capable of speed, and in urban spaces can often equal or exceed the
    speed of motor vehicles which often makes it easier for cyclists to
    share roads with people in cars than to share footways with
    pedestrians. Drivers need to be made aware of this and perhaps to be
    guided that it is not always necessary to overtake a cyclists. Further
    clarification needs to made in the section for all vehicles if all the
    rules should apply to cyclists (such as rule 163 ‘only overtake on the
    left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right’.) In
    addition any guidance for cyclists must adhere to guidance in the
    National Standard for cycle training (Bikeability) and drivers must be
    made aware of such guidance which would significantly minimise

    3.6 A final general principle is that there needs to be much more clarity as what is law and what is advice or suggestions. Perhaps by
    separating the MUST/MUST NOT laws from the ‘shoulds’. There should
    also be more clarity as to who in law is responsible in different
    situations. So while a pedestrian should ‘look out for traffic’ at
    junctions (Rule 8), drivers should give way to pedestrians crossing
    at junction (Rule 170). Who has more responsibility? (Point 3.2 above)

  • I'd say that sounds about spot on @David. Specifically introducing some kind of protective hierarchy as in 3.2, the guiding principles and change of language suggested in 3.3 and overall integration of the Bikeability guidance where appropriate. Perhaps, in addition it should contain somewhere a further 'should' or recommendation that all cyclists consider NSI training?

  • Sorry, another question, is the review restricted to changes on language and guidance that does not effect the law as it currently stsnds, or will it also include changes to the legality of some of the guidance...if you get what I mean?

  • Currently TfL are doing a consultation 'brainstorm' looking at Usability, things to change and to add. There isn't yet an agreement with DfT to begin wider consultation though with TfLs pressure one would like to think they well begin the process to revise it. I suppose that the legal points in it are based on case law covered in the reference source section of the HC which are noted in a number of sources.

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What changes would you make in the Highway Code?

Posted by Avatar for David @David