Highway Code rule change giving cyclists priority could cause 'dangerous situations'

A London traffic light for bicycles showing a green light, the background shows the road ahead out of focus
Under new rules, motorists have to give way to cyclists and pedestrians. (Getty)

A change to Highway Code rules which gives cyclists priority over drivers could cause 'dangerous situations', the AA has said.

The new rules state motorists have to give way to cyclists and pedestrians at junctions and on parallel crossings no matter who is first on the road.

A survey from the AA revealed only a third of drivers knew about the changes, which could be implemented from 29 January if they get approval from parliament, the Telegraph reported.

AA president Edmund King said: “With such fundamental changes to the Highway Code taking place to make our roads safer, we need to ensure road users understand the new rules ahead of time.

“Getting the message out now would help avoid dangerous situations and remove any confusion on the roads before the new rules are adopted.”

London, England - July 5, 2011: Commuter cyclists set off from a green light at a busy road junction in Central London.
Cyclists in central London. (Getty)

The current Highway Code rules state cyclists and pedestrians should only be given priority if they are on the road first.

But under new rules, which can be viewed here, cyclists are advised to stay in the centre of the road and ride alongside another cyclist to stay visible.

They were previously expected to ride on the side of the road despite there being no official guidance for this.

In the summer, the Department for Transport (DfT) said the new version of the Highway Code would include a “hierarchy of road users”.

It would ensure those who can do the greatest harm, such as those in vehicles, have the “greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others”.

The proposed changes will also give pedestrians priority at zebra crossings and junctions as well as raise further awareness about the dangers of speeding.

It comes as part of a £338 million package to boost cycling and walking across the country from the DfT.

The increased funding aims to encourage the public to make “sustainable travel choices” to make “air cleaner and cities greener”.

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The DfT said the investment would also be used to cover infrastructure upgrades such as the construction of hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes.

A DfT spokesman said: "The proposed upcoming changes to The Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and were widely reported when they were announced earlier this year."

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