Highway Code cracked - more than 40 rules changed

New Highway Code

Highway Code cracked - more than 40 rules changed

Following a sustained and high-profile campaign by CTC in 2007, over 40 rules of the revised Highway Code were changed to the benefit of cyclists. CTC had feared that the proposed wording would have undermined cyclists' right to use the road where cycle facilities were provided.

The changes made to the Highway Code vary from the mundane to the fundamental. There are many new rules for cyclists on the use of crossings and for taking care around tramways. Others offer advice on whether cyclists should use cycle facilities. 

New rules 61 and 63 were those that aroused the greatest ire amongst cyclists.

Rules 61 & 63: how the changes happened

Why did CTC challenge some of the proposed revisions to the latest version of the Code?

The Code's draft wording advised cyclists to "...use cycle routes when practicable and cycle facilities such as advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings where they are provided, as they can make your journey safer." 

CTC felt that this advice, if accepted, would reinforce the erroneous belief that cycle facilities are essentially safety features.  In CTC's experience, far too many cycle facilities are far from safe, so  expecting people to use them as a matter of course and in the interests of  their own 'safety', is ill-advised.  Some off-carriageway routes, for example, may cause more problems than they solve.

What's more, the draft wording would have meant that the use of cycle facilities would no longer be discretionary for cyclists wishing to protect themselves against the threat of adverse legal action or accusations of 'contributory negligence' should they be injured whilst riding on a nearby 'non-facility' by choice.

Unfortunately, the concept that many experienced cyclists regard the road as the safest place for them was counter-intuitive to some officials and Ministers, so CTC's battle over this proposed wording was far from straightforward.


Following sustained and concerted lobbying, actively backed by thousands of CTC's members and supporters, the Code now makes it clear beyond all doubt that cyclists are not obliged to use cycle facilities where it would be unsafe to do so. This is highly significant and very welcome.

What Rules 61 and 63 now say:

"Rule 61: Cycle 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."

"Rule 63: Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway. When using a cycle lane, 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 these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer."

Changes to other rules

Rule 60 (old rule 46) - this formalises previous Government regulations that allow flashing lights on cycles as legal when used alone.

Rule 77 (old rule 62) - this suggests that cyclists may find it just as safe to ride around a roundabout as walk around it. Previously the rule had assumed cyclists would walk round.

Rule 147 (old 125) - now includes a plea for drivers not to throw things on the road because it potentially endangers other road-users, especially cyclists and motorcyclists.

Rule 151 (old 129) - in slow moving traffic... "be aware of cyclists and motorcyclists who may be passing on either side" ... has been added.

Rule 156 (old 133) - single-track roads... "slow down when passing pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders" ... has been added.

Rule 167 (old 143) - overtaking... Now includes "stay behind if you are following a cyclist approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left."

Rule 181 (old 157) - "look out for cyclists when turning right in a junction."

Rule 211 (old 187) -  "When turning right across a line of slow-moving or stationary traffic, look out for cyclists or motorcyclists on the inside of the traffic you are crossing. Be especially careful when turning, and when changing direction or lane. Be sure to check mirrors and blind spots carefully" has been added.

Rule 227 (old 202) - Driving in wet weather... "take extra care around pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders" ... has been added.

Rules 281 - 287 (old 255 - 261) - We argued successfully that "accidents" be renamed "incidents".

Rule 288 (old 262) - Road works... Added: "take extra care near cyclists and motorcyclists as they are vulnerable to skidding on grit, mud or other debris at road works"

There is also a new paragraph on cycle training in the section entitled "You and your bicycle".


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