CHANGES to the Highway Code have been welcomed by Cycling Scotland, the nation’s cycling organisation.
The changes come into effect today and will impact all road users but will have the overall goal of making roads safer for people on foot, bikes and horses.
Around 20,000 people took part in a consultation, with the UK government saying that most people who responded were in favour of the proposed changes.
The change in rules will see users who are most at risk moved to the top of the hierarchy and enforces the idea that motorists need to be more aware of cyclists, and cyclists need to be more aware of pedestrians.
Among the many changes, cyclists are advised to ride in the centre of a lane on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic, and when approaching junctions to make themselves as visible as possible.
They can ride two abreast, as is already the case but must allow drivers behind them to overtake if it is safe to do so.
Other key amendments include clearer guidance for drivers to leave a distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists, and there will also be a recommendation for car occupants to open doors using their hand on the opposite side to the door, making them turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them.
This technique, known as the Dutch Reach, reduces the chances of doors being opening into the path of cyclists and motorcyclists.
Drivers and motorcyclists should now give priority to cyclists on roundabouts. The guidance will say they should not attempt to overtake people cycling within that person’s lane and should allow people cycling to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout.
Cyclists will still be able to remain in the left-hand lane when going across or around a roundabout. The new guidance is due that will tell motorists to pay extra attention to this, taking care not to cut off cyclists doing this.
Christopher Johnson, Head of Education and Training, Cycling Scotland said: “We welcome the updates to the Highway Code as one of many actions needed to prevent people being seriously injured and killed on our roads in Scotland.
“The new hierarchy of road users underpins the changes – those who can cause the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the risk to others: people driving will be responsible for ensuring people cycling, walking and wheeling are safe, while people cycling will be responsible for looking out for those walking and wheeling.
“Many of the changes to the Highway Code are not new but are clarifying or explaining existing rules. We encourage everyone to read the new guidance and follow it, whether you’re walking or wheeling, riding a bike or horse or driving a vehicle.
“While good progress has been on road safety overall in the last decade, sadly still too many people are killed or seriously injured while walking or cycling”
All road users are urged to study the new rules.