Pedestrians get priority as UK unveils changes to Highway Code

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Pedestrians get priority as UK unveils changes to Highway Code

Plans to create ‘road user hierarchy’ are part of GBP338m package to boost cycling and walking across Britain

Pedestrians wait at a busy junction in central London

PA Media

Last modified on Fri 30 Jul 2021 04.20 EDT

Changes to the Highway Code, including putting pedestrians at the top of a new “road user hierarchy”, have been announced by the UK transport secretary.

The proposed changes, which are due to receive parliamentary approval in the autumn, will also give pedestrians priority at junctions as well as raising further awareness about the dangers of speeding.

It comes as part of a GBP338m package to boost cycling and walking across the country from the Department for Transport (DfT).

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

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “Millions of us have found over the past year how cycling and walking are great ways to stay fit, ease congestion on the roads and do your bit for the environment. As we build back greener from the pandemic, we’re determined to keep that trend going by making active travel easier and safer for everyone.

“This GBP338m package marks the start of what promises to be a great summer of cycling and walking, enabling more people to make those sustainable travel choices that make our air cleaner and cities greener.”

The DfT said the new version of the Highway Code would include a “hierarchy of road users” that ensured those who could do the greatest harm, such as those in vehicles, had the “greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others”.

The announcement has been welcomed by the walking charity Living Streets, which says the proposed changes will “redress the balance” of road user responsibility.

Stephen Edwards, the interim chief executive at Living Streets, said: “The Highway Code currently treats children walking to school and lorry drivers as if they are equally responsible for their own or other people’s safety. These changes will redress that balance.

“People walking cause the least road danger but are often left paying the price. Road users who have potential to cause the greatest harm should take the greatest share of responsibility to reduce the danger they pose.

“Whether we choose to also drive or cycle, we are all pedestrians. These proposed revisions will benefit us all.”

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