FIVE major new Highway Code rule changes are set to come into place in DAYS – aimed at protecting cyclists.
The new changes are new to most motorists, with a third saying they were unaware that the rules were being revamped.
But experts have warned that the policy changes could cause more road rage incidents and spike resentment towards cyclists.
The Highway Code contains advice and rules for people on Britain’s roads and a total of 49 existing rules are to be updated with new amendments as well.
It is set to be updated on January 29 pending final parliamentary approval to introduce a risk-based hierarchy of road users.
These are the changes which will be coming into place from next Saturday.
CYCLE IN MIDDLE OF LANES
Cyclists will now be given the right to travel in the middle of a road, for their own safety.
They are required to move over to the left if a faster vehicle comes up behind them, but only if it is safe to do so.
It is only required when they are travelling on quite roads or those with slower moving traffic rather than high speeds.
Cyclists will also have to only move over at junctions if it would be unsafe for drivers to overtake them.
RIDE TWO ABREAST
It is now a rule that cyclists can be safer to travel in groups, especially when travelling with children or less experience riders.
However when a car comes up behind they are advised to go back into single file to allow them to safely overtake.
Drivers are also being given more responsibility to watch out for cyclists and those walking or riding a horse.
Cyclists will have more responsibility to be aware of pedestrians while they are travelling.
DRIVERS 5FT OVERTAKING SPACE
Drivers are being advised to give cyclists at least five feet of space when overtaking on any roads.
This new rule is to help keep riders safe on the roads, and to make motorists more aware of their surroundings.
Cyclists no longer have to travel in a cyle lane or track when they are riding along the roads.
If it is safer to do so they may choose to ride on the road rather than along a cycle lane.
They also have to consider any pedestrians that may also be walking along a track, and must take more responsibility when it comes to those on foot.
PRIORITY OVER TURNING CARS
Drivers will now have to wait for cyclists to pass them before they are able to turn into an oncoming junction.
Motorists previously had right of way when turning into a junction, but now they must be more aware of those on the roads with them.
Pedestrians and horse riders will also be given the same rights as a cyclist when it comes to turning cars.
But charities and motoring groups have warned that not enough has been done to make people aware of them.
Neil Greig, the director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, a road safety charity, told the Times: “A lot of drivers are going to think that somebody cycling in the middle of the lane in front of them is doing it to deliberately slow them down.
“That leads to conflict and road rage and inappropriate overtaking. Everybody needs to know all of these changes at the same time for it to work.”
The Alliance of British Drivers slammed the changes as potentially dangerous.
A spokesman said: “The proposed hierarchy of road users is likely to create or exacerbate resentment and ill feeling between different classes of road user, and may lead to irresponsible attitudes by cyclists and pedestrians.”
One in three drivers are unaware of the major changes, with four per cent of people admitting they had “no intention” of looking over the details.
The AA accused the Government of being “far too silent” on the changes, but the Department for Transport (DfT) insisted it will ensure “all road users are aware”.
AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “With a week to go, too many drivers are unaware of the new rules of the road.
“While the Government formally announced these changes last summer, they have been far too silent in promoting them.
“Shockingly, one in 25 drivers say they have no intention of looking at the new rules.
“These changes affect everyone, so we encourage people to read the updated code now so we can make our roads safer.”