Highway Code changes infographic needs context

28 January 2022
What was claimed

Cyclists should cycle in the centre of the lane.

Our verdict

This is true for quiet roads, but on busy roads they should stay at least 0.5 metres from the kerb.

What was claimed

Cyclists should ride two abreast.

Our verdict

Cyclists can ride two abreast but the Highway Code does not say they should.

What was claimed

Drivers should give five feet when overtaking cyclists.

Our verdict

Correct for speeds up to 30 miles per hour. At higher speeds, the Highway Code says drivers should give cyclists more space.

What was claimed

Cyclists are not obliged to use cycle lanes.

Our verdict

Correct, though this was the case already.

What was claimed

Cyclists on either side of a vehicle have priority when cars are turning.

Our verdict

Correct.

An infographic, spreading on social media, claims to show five new changes to the Highway Code in Great Britain which will apply from 29 January 2022.

The image is sourced from an article published by The Sun newspaper.

The claims are all based in fact but some of them exclude important context.

The post claims people should cycle in the centre of the lane. 

The guidance is in fact changing to say cyclists should cycle in the centre of the lane on quiet roads, in slow traffic or at junctions, and at least 0.5 metres from the kerb on busy roads.  

The post then claims “cyclists should ride two abreast”.

Previously, the guidance said cyclists should never ride more than two abreast, and should ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends. 

The guidance will now say cyclists can ride two abreast and that it may be safer to do so in large groups or where children are cycling, but it does not say they should ride two abreast.

Thirdly, the post claims drivers should give at least five feet of distance to cyclists when overtaking them, which is true when overtaking at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. At higher speeds, drivers are advised to “give them more space”.  

This guidance has been added to the existing rule telling overtaking drivers to give cyclists “at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car”.

Fourthly, the post claims cyclists will not be obliged to use cycle lanes. This is true, but not a change, as the Highway Code already said that use of cycle lanes was not compulsory “and will depend on your experience and skills”.

Finally, the post says that “cyclists either side of a vehicle have priority when cars are turning”. The image indicates the cyclists are carrying on straight ahead. 

The Highway Code is changing to tell drivers and motorcyclists to “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.”

It also says that, when turning, road users should “give way to any vehicles using a bus lane, cycle lane, cycle track or tramway from either direction.” This line was in previous versions of the Highway Code without the mention of cycle tracks.

Image courtesy of Basher Eyre via Wikimedia Commons

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because while the claims made in the infographic are all based in fact, they do exclude some important context.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.