Priority for pedestrians in the Highway Code update

The updated Highway Code comes into effect on Saturday 29 January, with changes designed to improve the safety of people walking, cycling and riding horses.

Walkers on Aberdeen street

Paths for All welcome the changes to the Highway Code, that will make life safer for people walking and in wheelchairs. 

The updated code will state that quicker and/or heavier modes of travel that have the most potential to cause harm such as cars and vans should bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.

The code says the update most strongly applies to those in charge of a motorised vehicle. However sensibly, cyclists should be careful around horses, and everyone should be careful about pedestrians, especially children, people who are older, or have disabilities. 

Paths for All gave our response and support to the Department for Transport consultation on these changes alongside our partners Living Streets and Ramblers Scotland. There are three main changes that help pedestrians and people who use wheelchairs to be safer on our streets:

1. Hierarchy of road users

The new ‘hierarchy of road users’ places those most at risk in the event of a collision at the top. Children, older adults and those with disabilities and other pedestrians are at the top, followed by cyclists and horse riders.
Road users with the potential to cause the most harm bear the greatest responsibility to keep others safe. With the code stating that everyone should behave responsibly. 

2. People crossing the road at junctions

When pedestrians are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should now give way. Previously people walking had priority only if they had already started to cross the road and traffic wanted to turn into the road. 
There is a new obligation for traffic including cars, motorcycles and bikes to give way to pedestrians who are waiting to cross the road at junctions and zebra crossings. 

3. Walking, cycling or riding in shared spaces 

On shared pathways where pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders use one space, the updated code encourages considerate behaviour towards walkers. People walking should also take care not to obstruct or endanger others. 

You can read more about the changes on the Department for Transport's Website.

In response to the updated Highway Code, Kevin Lafferty, CEO of Paths for All said:
 

These updates to the Highway Code just make good sense. Fundamentally the code now puts human lives at the centre of our street safety, protecting those most vulnerable to harm. 

We want to see more people walking in our cities, towns and villages, and poor road safety is a barrier to this. If a road crossing is difficult or even frightening, this could be what stops a person from going out on foot.

With health and climate emergencies facing us, we welcome the Highway Code changes which will make walking and wheeling, easier, more inclusive, safer choices for everyone.


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