A major overhaul of the Highway Code will give greater protection to cyclists, disabled people and pedestrians from today as a new hierarchy of road users comes into force.
The Department for Transport’s new system becomes law today and includes eight completely new rules and 49 amendments, affecting priority access on roads including roundabouts.
Those who fail to follow it face a £200 fine and six points on their licence.
Under the new hierarchy, motorists will be told to give priority to cyclists and pedestrians and everyone will have to give way to people waiting to cross a road.
Children, older adults and disabled people are at the top of the list, followed by other pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists.
That means pedestrians now have precedence at zebra crossings, on parallel crossings and at light controlled crossings when they have a green signal.
The code states: “Those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others. This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, vans/minibuses, cars/taxis and motorcycles.
“Cyclists, horse riders and drivers of horse drawn vehicles likewise have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians.
“None of this detracts from the responsibility of ALL road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, to have regard for their own and other road users’ safety.”
Cars indicating to turn left or right must also now give way to cyclists coming from behind and going straight on, under the new rules.
Drivers should leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph – and give them even more space when overtaking at higher speeds.
Finally, cyclists will be advised to ride in the middle of the road when approaching junctions and on quiet roads – currently, those on bikes typically ride on the left-hand side.
Updates to rule 186 also emphasise: “You should give priority to cyclists on the roundabout. They will be travelling more slowly than motorised traffic. Give them plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane.”