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Cyclists may not undertake horses: clarification on proposed Highway Code changes

Cyclists do not have priority over riders in proposed Highway Code changes — nor is there anything to suggest they may undertake horses.

The Government is consulting on its proposed amendments, which are aimed at improving the safety of vulnerable road users.

One key point is creating a hierarchy of road users, to ensure those who are capable of causing most harm have the most responsibility to reduce the threat they may pose to others.

Some riders have asked whether this means cyclists have priority over riders, but British Horse Society (BHS) director of safety Alan Hiscox, who has been on the stakeholders’ focus group for the code review, said this is not the case.

“In the proposed hierarchy of road users, the BHS sees this as a hierarchy of responsibility,” he told H&H.

“The Department for Transport has confirmed that cyclists do not have priority over horse riders and this has never been the intention. The BHS will be asking for clarity in the wording of the proposed hierarchy.

“A priority of cyclists over horse riders was never discussed at the Highway Code review stakeholders focus group, and we are supported in this view by Cycling UK.”

A number of riders have also been concerned that the proposed changes would allow cyclists to pass horses on the inside.

But Mr Hiscox said: “There is nothing in the proposals that suggests cyclists can undertake horses.

“The proposed rule 163 states: ‘Cyclists may pass slower-moving traffic on their right or left’.

“It has never been suggested that horses are slower-moving traffic, but the BHS will be asking for the following wording to be put in the Highway Code: ‘Cyclists should NEVER pass horses on the nearside or to their left’. This will avoid any confusion or debate, and this view is supported by British Cycling, British Triathlon and Cycling UK.”

Mr Hiscox added that the BHS “strongly supports and welcomes” the proposed wording of rules 163 and 215.

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“There would now be an absolute definition of how road users should pass horses; under 15mph and allowing at least 2m space, not revving the engine or sounding the horn, and driving slowly away,” he said. “These messages have been our Dead Slow mantra.

Have your say in the consultation here

“The support from Living Streets, Cycling UK and the Department for Transport in the proposed wording to enhance the safety of all equestrians has been welcomed. The BHS will be responding in full to the consultation to ensure carriage drivers are fully included and requesting some word changes where appropriate.”

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