Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Highway Code changes: Just 18 percent of cyclists think road safety has improved, poll finds

The new study found that 12 percent of cyclists believe conditions on the road have worsened in the past year, while only one in ten reckon the government takes cycle safety seriously enough

This Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the much-discussed changes to the Highway Code – where did that year go? – and a new study has found that in the twelve months since the updates, just 18 percent of cyclists believe that they have made a positive difference to road safety, while just under half of the respondents weren’t even aware that the changes had been introduced.

The long-awaited changes to the Highway Code, implemented on 29 January 2022 in the midst of great consternation within the national press, included amongst other things the introduction of a hierarchy of road users aimed at protecting the most vulnerable, and drivers being advised to give cyclists a minimum of 1.5 metres of space when overtaking.

Communication of the changes left a lot to be desired, however, with the Department for Transport (DfT) waiting until July to launch its road safety campaign promoting the updates – leaving the new Highway Code to fall victim to swathes of misinformation (often perpetuated by the mainstream media) or plain ignorance.

> Highway Code: 61% of drivers HAVE NOT read new rules, AA survey suggests 

In September, an AA poll found that, of the 13,327 members it surveyed, 8,090 (61 percent) said they had not read the changes. Of the 8,090 not to have read the new rules, 6,972 (52 percent) said they were aware of the changes but had not read them, while 1,118 (eight percent) were completely unaware of them.

A recent poll by cycling insurance specialist Cycleplan, however, indicates that ignorance of the new changes is as equally, if not more, prevalent amongst cyclists.

The company’s recent survey of 1,000 “regular” cyclists on the Highway Code changes found that 48 percent were not aware that the changes had been introduced (a similar figure to when the insurer carried out the same poll in early 2022).

> "Protect those most at risk": Highway Code changes promoted as government launches 'Travel Like You Know Them' campaign 

According to the study, the changes – if they’ve even been read at all – haven’t led to a safer and more harmonious environment on the roads.

When asked whether they had noticed a difference in road safety at junctions over the last 12 months, only 18 percent of cyclists said that they felt safer. 12 percent claimed that junctions have felt even more dangerous since the Highway Code was updated, while 70 percent said that they haven’t noticed a difference.

Just one-fifth of the cyclists polled said they feel safe cycling on UK roads, while 32 percent claimed to have been involved, or nearly involved, in a collision with a motorist in the last 12 months.

Finally, when asked about how seriously national and local governments are taking road safety, just one in ten cyclists believe that the UK government has made safe cycling a priority, while only 12 percent agreed that their local council is working hard to make the roads safer for people on bikes.

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

Add new comment


Mungecrundle | 1 year ago

The objection at the time of the published changes which seemed most ludicrous to me, but dearly held onto by many, was that giving way to pedestrians crossing a side road when turning from a main road would cause drivers behind to crash into the vehicle waiting to turn. Apparently many drivers felt that it was a huge imposition for them to not to crash into the vehicle ahead by being asked to look ahead, leave sufficient gap and, most outrageously, drive at an appropriate speed and that the good old days of simply driving at pedestrians crossing side roads was something of a golden age of motoring freedom.

Awavey | 1 year ago

I think the situation is pretty much as it was when the changes came in, those that are going to give you space, end up giving you the space and more, those that werent going to give you any room are clueless about it all and you're virtually touching each other as they pass still

todays ride a pretty classic example, some nice overtakes and people waiting in gaps, and lots of bad passes and drivers thinking they can just nip through a gap because you are only a cyclist after all.

worst one was had a car attempt an overtake think they got up alongside my rear wheel (I wasnt really focussing on the behind because I could see what was coming next) and when they realised they werent going to make it as either they were accelerating into a head on collision with an oncoming car or were going to take me out, and they hit the brakes hard, and all you could hear was the ABS kicking in and the tyres skidding on the road still, and you are just hoping they dont suddenly clip your rear wheel as they try to get back behind you and wrestle control with their out of control car.


Adam Sutton | 1 year ago

The roads may be safer, but its the people using them are seemingly becoming more entitled, arrogant and willing to put themsleves in stupid situations to save a few minutes (if that). And that is across all modes of transport, I encounter some absolute entitled bellends on bikes when cycling, particularly in London.

mattw | 1 year ago

Here they seem to be bedding in.

I'm getting more drivers stopping at sideroads, and in the car I am stopping at traffic islands for crossing peds and cyclists and have not had any following cars up my bottom yet.

I note that the AA survey states that the number of members who have either read the new rules, or have awareness of them, is 92%.

We've got the interested-in-improvement and the awake; we need to worry about the dopeys, the hoons, and the crims.

Bungle_52 | 1 year ago

I am experiencing many more considerate passes since the change. I think the conscientious drivers now give more room. Most seem happy to do so.

The main change for me though is that I now ride way out in the road. I reckon the new highway code has given me the freedom to do this as many drivers have read that "cyclists now rule the road" and aren't sure of the changes so they play it safe. Most passes now are on the other side of the road.

The aggressive drivers are as bad as ever, may be even worse, so you can't relax at any time. Riding assertively does give you more wriggle room though when push comes to shove.

My last report was in November and I've had no problems since then until this week. I've just had three incidents in the last four days. What's going on?

I am a utility cyclist with occasional leisure rides in the countryside.  I never ride without a camera.

IanMSpencer | 1 year ago

The bad'uns are just as bad, the mediocre have generally improved and the good have got gooder.

I have noticed an increase in the irritatingly polite but slightly dangerous - the ones who stop to let you out when there are other vehicles flying around in all directions, and the ones who wait, and wait, and wait to pass when you feel that there were good opportunities for competent drivers - you are waiting for the dam of frustration to burst at the worst time. I did have a sequence of 3 overtakes within about a mile where each one had a near miss with oncoming traffic but gave me amazingly polite amounts of room to achieve this.

Do I feel safer - not really. I'm worn out by being on edge on the roads, and am moving to riding more gravel, which unfortunately means some drives to starts given the limited off road options locally. It actually makes sense because it is my first and last 5 miles which are the incident-ridden bits of the ride - basically urban drivers on urban and local country-esque lanes.

ChuckSneed | 1 year ago

It's gotten worse! The road is turning into a battlefield every day.

JustTryingToGet... | 1 year ago

From my perspective (urban town, suburbs, london) I would say the absolute nutters are as bad if not worse. However, the oblivious idiots are fewer, with a significant increase in decent passes.

brooksby | 1 year ago

It gives me an excuse to justify taking primary through certain chicanes I use on a daily basis (either side of the Clifton Suspension Bridge) - I know damn well that no car could get safely past me (and certainly not as recommended in the HC), so why should I enable someone to even try?

Has my road experience as a whole improved over the last year?  No, not really, but then I don't think I ever had the truly awful experiences that I regularly read about on here (above or below the line).

carlosdsanchez | 1 year ago

Based on submissions to OpSnap, driving standards would appear to be worse now than pre pandemic.

2019 - 9600 cycling commuting miles - 73 submissions 

2022 - 3500 cycling commuting miles - 89 submissions

AlsoSomniloquism replied to carlosdsanchez | 1 year ago

Driving standards worse, or new rules making people less reluctant to report the close passes etc as a waste of time?

Edit: Just realised the stats are yours and not from OpSnap

Latest Comments