Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Highways Agency (WTC 77)

WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES

RESPONSIBILITIES

  1.  The Highways Agency, as an Executive Agency of DETR, manages England's 9,760 km network of trunk roads and motorways. The trunk road and motorway network comprises about four per cent of the national road network but carries over one third of all traffic and more than two thirds of freight. There are several large and small communities alongside the trunk road network and approximately ten thousand locations where walkers may need to cross or walk alongside it so that they can gain access to both public rights of way and local roads.

POLICY BACKGROUND

  2.  In 1998, Government published white papers titled, "A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone" and "A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England". These set the policy for the Agency on sustainable travel. The Agency published its own Accessibility Strategic Plan entitled "Encouraging Sustainable Travel", one of eight strategic plans for publication during 2000-01. The plan sets out our approach for the improvement of travel in communities. It sits alongside the Agency's Environment Strategic Plan "Towards a Balance with Nature".

COMMUNITY SEVERANCE

  3.  Trunk roads can create severance to communities and disrupt people's daily lives which can contribute to the need for more short car journeys such as parents taking children to and from school. The Highways Agency is reviewing the problems of severance and access to public transport within its programme of Route Management Strategies (RMSs). Priority actions flowing from work carried out on the A14 RMS to date include improving access to bus stops for pedestrians.

  4.  The Agency will continue to introduce appropriate traffic calming schemes into communities, such as Lavendon and Great Barford on the A428 and Craven Arms on the A49. It will also carry out research into innovative methods of speed-control, in order to reduce community severance. Interim design advice on these methods was issued last year. The advice draws on experience of traffic calming gained from the schemes mentioned earlier in this paragraph.

PEDESTRIANISATION

  5.  Pedestrian activity is one of the key areas considered in the Route Management Strategies. For example, the RMS in progress on the A14 has identified that heavy volumes of traffic were preventing pedestrians from crossing the road. As a result:

    —  a new footbridge has now been provided at Twywell and;

    —  another is under consideration for Blackbridge, east of Kettering;

    —  the Agency is also working in partnership with Northamptonshire County Council to create safe footpath crossings at other locations on the A14 to encourage travel by foot and;

    —  the Agency has worked closely with the Residents Association to provide the Waterdale Footbridge and Pegasus Crossing on the A405 at Bricket Wood; these have been welcomed locally as safe crossings for school children and equestrians.

  6.  The Agency has carried out a research programme of projects to encourage walking as part of its Accessibility Strategic Plan. Much of this work has focused on providing better information on the extent of protected crossings such as subways, footbridges and Pelican crossings. A survey of grade-separated crossings of dual carriageways has already been completed to establish where there are needs for suitable pedestrian crossings, while future work includes a survey and safety audit of crossings and a survey of river bridges where crossings for walkers could be incorporated.

  7.  Other research has prepared design advice for the creation of parallel routes to trunk roads for vulnerable users, including pedestrians and disabled people to use. In locations where there is insufficient width within the existing highway boundary to take account of this advice, additional land can be purchased to upgrade field paths or convert unused roads for this purpose.

PARTNERSHIP

  8.  The Agency works in partnership with local authorities, transport providers, special interest groups and local communities in order to develop and deliver projects. Reducing reliance on the car is one of the many issues considered in these regional forums. It also works closely with Regional Planning Bodies (RPBs) to determine future trunk road investment and encourage regional development and sustainability. Examples of projects which have been developed in partnership working are:

    —  Lancing, where the Agency has been working closely with the education authority to reinforce road safety training and;

    —  with local highway authorities to support the safer routes to school initiative;

    —  trunk road signing, giving information about access to public transport has been installed, such as the Oxford Park and Ride scheme off the A34.

SAFETY

  9.  The needs of pedestrians, including the disabled, is considered in both the design for new roads and changes to existing roads. Examples of this are as follows:

    —  at Roman Road in Hollinwood, Greater Manchester, the bridge parapets are to be raised over the new section of the M60 to improve the safety of children walking to school;

    —  as a result of the opening of the M60, the Agency has been looking at ways to improve safety on the A663 at Broadway, Oldham, Greater Manchester;

    —  at Denton Roundabout (M60/M67), Tameside, a signalised pedestrian/cycle crossing has been incorporated into the north side of the roundabout.

REMOVING TRAFFIC FROM TOWN CENTRES

  10.  Bypasses of towns and villages remove trunk road traffic from built-up areas, thereby improving the environment and road conditions for pedestrians. Research in the early 1990's, at a number of trial towns including Dalton in Furness and Market Harborough, showed that significant improvements could be achieved. 19 new bypasses are included in the Government's Targeted Programme of Improvements (TPI).

January 2001


 
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Prepared 29 June 2001