Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has today (29 July 2021) announced changes to the Highway Code, including putting pedestrians at the top of a new road user hierarchy. The changes are subject to parliamentary approval in the autumn.
Living Streets supported the changes when the Government launched its consultation on the proposals last year (July 2020).
A key feature of the proposals is the introduction of a ‘hierarchy of responsibility’ (Rule H1), with road users who cause the greatest harm having a greater responsibility to reduce the threat they pose to others. The hierarchy places pedestrians at the top of the hierarchy, as the road users most at risk in the event of a collision.
There are also proposed changes at zebra crossings and junctions to give pedestrians priority and additional narrative on the dangers of speeding (Rule H2). At the heart of the proposed changes is the belief that “the purpose of the Highway Code is to promote safety on the road, whilst also supporting a healthy, sustainable and efficient transport system.”
Thousands of Living Streets’ supporters responded to the consultation and backed their campaign to make #WalkingNumber1.
Stephen Edwards, Interim CEO, 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, with pedestrians accounting for over a quarter of road deaths. 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.”
The news comes as part of a wider announcement of a £338m package ‘to boost cycling and walking across the country’. Changes to the Highway Code are amongst a raft of measures included in the Summer of Cycling and Walking document published today, including infrastructure upgrades and new requirements to ensure that active travel schemes' effects are properly assessed.
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 £338m 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.”
Living Streets is part of the Walking and Cycling Alliance, which has been calling for improved infrastructure for walking and cycling, along with changes to the Highway Code.