New Highway Code rules aim to make walking and cycling safer

girl cyclist in Oxford with helmet on

They include the introduction of a ‘Hierarchy of Responsibility’, giving people in control of bigger and more dangerous vehicles greater responsibility for ensuring the safety of more vulnerable road users. For example, this means drivers of cars, vans and lorries are more likely than before to be held responsible for collisions with cyclists and pedestrians.

There are also changes to the rules on how motorists and cyclists interact at junctions, and new guidelines on overtaking safely.


Be aware

  1. Motorists should not cut across cyclists going ahead when you are turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, just as you would not turn across the path of another motor vehicle. 
  2. At a junction drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.
  3. Motorists MUST leave a minimum safe passing distance of 1.5m when overtaking cyclists or horse riders.
  4. The code recommends a new technique when leaving vehicles. It’s sometimes called the ‘Dutch Reach’. Use your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side, and your right hand to open a door on your left-hand side. This makes you turn your head to look over your shoulder.

Cycling UK have produced an informative video that explains the changes clearly – please make sure you understand the new rules and what they mean for you.

How is this being monitored?

Thames Valley Police are continuing with the Operation Close Pass campaign to support the Highway Code changes.

Operation Close Pass is designed to actively target motorists who ignore Highway Code rules on overtaking cyclists.

The operation uses a plain-clothes police officer on a bicycle (equipped with video camera) to look out for motorists who do not leave the required space when passing cyclists.

If motorists are spotted not leaving the appropriate space, the police will intervene and take appropriate action.

How is the University supporting our cycling community to feel safe and seen?

The University offers various schemes to support cycling, such as cycle training for both students and staff through our partners at Broken Spoke; you are entitled to six hours of free training. University car parking permit holders, fleet vehicle drivers and those claiming expenses for business mileage in a private vehicle are also encouraged to undertake the cycle training. You can sign up here to book your spot.

If you are looking for a new set of lights or a secure lock to keep your bike safe, you can purchase these from the University through the Oxford University Shop. Details are available on the Be safe, be seen webpage.

Staff who want a healthier and more sustainable commute will be able to get a new bicycle and accessories for less in 2022, with the launch of a new salary sacrifice scheme. The University is partnering with Green Commute Initiative (GCI) to offer employees the chance to pay for a new bike and safety equipment out of their pre-tax income. Visit the Cycle to Work Scheme page for complete details.

The University provides a mobile bike repair service for punctures, brakes, cables, gears and lights. Labour is free for staff (although not for students), as long as you use the bike to travel to and from work or on University business.

Vision to the future

The newly formed University Safety Executive Group (SEG) is to consider a proposal to formally set up a Transport and Pedestrian Safety Advisory Group (TPSAG) to sit within the renewed University safety management system. As a formal advisory group to SEG, TPSAG would directly influence policy and practice across the University.