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Have your say on the proposed changes to the Highway Code

7 Sept 2020


We are urging riders and carriage drivers to have their say on the proposed changes to the Highway Code, aimed at improving the safety of vulnerable road users.

The government launched a consultation on the amendments, which are specifically designed to benefit walkers, cyclists and equestrians.

The BHS has been part of the Highway Code Stakeholders Focus Group to ensure that horse riders have been represented as vulnerable road users in the review of the Highway Code consultation. We are proud to announce that our ‘Dead Slow’ messaging about how to pass horses safely on the roads has been included.

Have your say!

The consultation closes at 11:59pm on 27 October 2020 and it’s an opportunity for riders and carriage drivers to have their say on the proposed changes to the Highway Code review, to improve safety for all.

The Proposed Changes

This Highway Code Review places a clear emphasis on responsibility, and it is clear that the proposed updates to the Highway Code will improve the safety of horses, horse riders and carriage drivers on the road.

The BHS in particular supports the rules and updates below:


Hierarchy of Road Users

The introduction to The Highway Code will be updated to include a ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ and new Rules.

Rule H1 ensures that those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to other road users.
The objective of the hierarchy is not to give priority to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in every situation, but rather to ensure a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users.

Rule 52 – Ride Safe Award

Rule 52 will be updated to include new text recommending inexperienced horse riders consider taking the Ride Safe Award from the British Horse Society:

If you are an inexperienced horse rider or have not ridden for a while, consider taking the Ride Safe Award from the British Horse Society.

The Ride Safe Award provides a foundation for any horse rider to be safe and knowledgeable when riding in all environments but particularly on the road.

For more information, see

Rule 63 – Passing in Shared Spaces

Rule 63 provides guidance on cycling in shared spaces. The new text will read:

Sharing space with pedestrians, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles. When riding in places where sharing with pedestrians, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles is permitted take care when passing pedestrians, especially children, older adults or disabled people. Let them know you are there when necessary e.g. by ringing your bell (it is recommended that a bell is fitted to your bike), or by calling out politely.

Remember that pedestrians may be deaf, blind or partially sighted and that this may not be obvious.

Do not pass pedestrians, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles closely or at high speed, particularly from behind. Remember that horses can be startled if passed without warning. Always be prepared to slow down and stop when necessary.

Rule 66 – Cyclists Consider Riders

Rule 66 ensures cyclists are considerate towards horse riders plus the inclusion of the text below:

[cyclists’ should] ride in single file when drivers wish to overtake and it is safe to let them do so. When riding in larger groups on narrow lanes, it is sometimes safer to ride two abreast

Rule 125 – Pass at Speeds Under 15 MPH

Rule 125 on speeding refers to children, older adults, disabled people, and horse drawn vehicles:

Unsafe speed increases the chances of causing a collision (or being unable to avoid one), as well as its severity. Inappropriate speeds are also intimidating, deterring people from walking, cycling or riding horses.

Rule 163

Rule 163 on overtaking to advise that cyclists may pass slower moving or stationary traffic on the right or left, including at the approach to junctions. It will also include new text which reads:

give motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211 to 215). 

As a guide:

  • pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 15 mph and allow at least 2.0 metres spacw
  • you should wait behind the motorcyclist, cyclist, horse rider, horse drawn vehicle or pedestrian and not overtake if it is unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances
  • take extra care and give more space when overtaking motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and pedestrians in bad weather (including high winds) and at night.

Rule 186 – Give Priority in Situations

Rule 186 on signals and position to give priority in certain situations. The new text to include.

You should give priority to cyclists on the roundabout. They will be travelling more slowly than motorised traffic. Give them plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane. Allow them to move across your path as they travel around the roundabout.

Cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles may stay in the left-hand lane when they intend to continue across or around the roundabout. Drivers should take extra care when entering a roundabout to ensure that they do not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles in the left-hand lane, who are continuing around the roundabout.

Rule 215 – Pass Wide and Slow

Rule 215 is to remind drivers to pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles with care, giving them plenty of space, whilst recognising that horses can be unpredictable:

When you see a horse on a road, always slow down to a maximum of 15 mph. Be patient, don’t sound your horn or rev your engine. When safe to do so, pass wide and slow, allowing at least 2.0 metres space.

Remember there are three brains at work when you pass a horse; the rider’s, the driver’s and the horse’s. Don’t forget horses are flight animals and can move incredibly quickly if startled.


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