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Horse (and bike and foot) sense

When you think of motorways and major ‘A’ roads, you probably conjure up images of cars and trucks travelling at speed on roads with multiple lanes. But there are other users who are often overlooked – cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians must cross these roads or travel along some of them (not the motorways!) too.

We know from our research that many cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians avoid travelling along or cross Highways England’s network unless there really is no option. Where these roads are in urban areas, such as in the West Midlands, it’s even more important that footpaths, cycle lanes and crossings help them make their journeys safely and do not become a barrier to getting around.

Motorways and major ‘A’ roads pass through many rural, beautiful parts of the country, like the M4 in Berkshire. In these areas, equestrians often need to cross Highways England’s roads to get from stables to training grounds and bridleways. The safety of horse and rider is of vital importance here too.

Our recently-published research, cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians; measuring satisfaction with journeys on Highways England’s network in the West Midlands, Berkshire and Hampshire explores their needs and experiences further.

We found that these road users are relatively satisfied overall, but they would feel happier if there were:

  • more segregated cycle routes
  • lower speed limits for drivers on the approach to crossings and junctions
  • improved lighting and maintenance for footways and cycleways
  • more signage warning drivers of their presence
  • better information for drivers on how to pass horses safely

This research will help Highways England and others focus on ensuring that roads better meet the needs of cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians.

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