Have the 2022 Highway Code updates affected cyclists?
Motorists and cyclists across the UK will be aware of the recent updates to the Highway Code that came into effect on January 29th 2022, but are these updates relevant to eBike users?
We’re going to break down the Highway Code changes and highlight the changes that are specific to eBike users.
Why has the Highway Code changed?
The Highway Code has been updated to clarify the priorities and responsibilities of all road users, including pedestrians and further enforce already established rules.
These changes have been made to ensure that our roads, paths and bridleways are safe for all users, with a special focus on driver, pedestrian and cyclist priority.
These changes have resulted in a hierarchy of road users to help demonstrate the most at-risk users and those who carry the most potential danger and have the highest responsibility when on the road.
We’re sure you guessed it – pedestrians sit atop the most at-risk with cyclists (including eBike riders) and horse riders following closely behind. On the other hand of the spectrum, you’ll see vehicles such as buses, vans and lorries carrying the most responsibility and potential danger.
This new hierarchy of road users should not be mistaken as an ordering system of who gives way to who. Instead, it is a visual representation of the responsibility and risks of everyday users.
What the 2022 Highway Code changes mean
As mentioned above, the new Highway Code rules aren’t all new. Some of what has been highlighted in the 2022 update are there to enforce and clarify already established highway code rules.
Pavements still remain off-limits to bike users, including those on an eBike, unless there is signage and markings that indicate the path is legal for cyclists to use alongside pedestrians.
As always, vehicles of any sort, including cyclists and eBike riders, must give way to pedestrians waiting to cross and already crossing zebra crossings.
Similarly to zebra crossings, drivers including motorcyclists and cyclists need to give way to pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross or already crossing. Unlike zebra crossings, parallel crossings have a cycleway alongside the black and white stripes.
Electric bikes, cyclists and drivers need to use junctions as they would zebra crossings. This means if a pedestrian is waiting to cross, traffic should give way to them so they can cross safely. If a pedestrian has already started crossing, the pedestrian has right of way and all traffic is required to stop to allow them to cross safely.
Cycle tracks and bridleways
The updated Highway Code still remains prevalent without the presence of motor vehicles. This means:
- Cyclists, including eBikes, need to give way to those on foot on cycle tracks and to those riding a horse.
- Cyclists are allowed to overtake people on foot and those riding a horse however take extra precautions when doing so and be sure to pass slowly, wide and ensure you’re seen.
- Cyclists and electric bicyclists should avoid cutting back in front of those on foot and horse riders after overtaking them on cycle tracks and bridleways.
The safest way to overtake a pedestrian is to ring your bicycles bell (if you have one), make yourself known and your intentions clear using hand signals and pass wide and slow.
The safest way to overtake a horse rider is to make yourself known and your intentions clear. Slow down as much as possible and pass on the right where possible. Usually, the horse rider will wave you through to minimise the risk of startling the horse.
Of course, roads are where the majority of road users are, including eBikes, motorcycles, LGVs and cars. This also means this is where the most risk is and the roads hold the highest potential for accidents.
Using the following rules will ensure the safety of everyday users on the roads and pavements.
- Pedestrians are allowed to use any part of a road or cycle path, including the pavement unless there are signs that go against this rule.
- Cyclists and eBike users are encouraged to cycle in the middle of lanes on quiet roads to increase visibility and safety. Keep at least half a metre away from the kerb when cycling through busy traffic.
- Cyclists are allowed to pass slow-moving or stationary vehicles but are encouraged to use common sense where appropriate. For example, if there is a large vehicle and you’re unsure whether or not to pass it, avoid passing until you are sure you can do it safely.
- Drivers and motorists mustn’t cut across cyclists or horse riders when turning in or out of a junction or changing direction or lanes.
- Drivers and other motor vehicles should still ensure ample space for cyclists and horse riders when overtaking on the road.
- Cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast when accompanying a less-experienced rider or when riding in a large group, however, they are encouraged to change to single file when it is safe to do so to allow the safe passing of motor vehicles.
Introduction of the Dutch Reach
What is the Dutch Reach? As many cyclists may have experienced, car drivers exiting their cars can sometimes lead to a collision in the blink of an eye.
The Dutch Reach method is a door opening method that encourages the driver to look over their shoulder prior to exiting the vehicle to ensure it is safe to do so.
To open a door using the Dutch Reach method, the driver must open their right-hand driver-side door using their left hand. This movement naturally turns the body around which will allow the driver to see if there is oncoming traffic, including eBikes and cyclists.
What the Highway Code changes mean to eBikes
These changes are very beneficial for those on bikes and hybrid road eBikes and will ensure that both you and your bike are safe and injury-free.
For more information on the Highway Code changes, click here to visit the Government website.