Better maintenance and improved infrastructure needed for riders, walkers and wheelers in Devon and Cornwall says watchdog

11 July 2024

Paths alongside roads managed by National Highways provide routes for riders, walkers, and wheelers – taking them to places that it would otherwise be impossible to access using ‘active’ modes of transport. So how can National Highways make these routes more appealing and accessible?  

New research by Transport Focus has found that properly maintaining pathways is vital to get communities in Devon and Cornwall involved in active travel and to enable essential journeys. 

When talking about factors which made their journeys more difficult and uncomfortable, riders, walkers and wheelers pointed out that the paths provided for them often suffer from poorly maintained surfaces, obstruction by overgrown vegetation and inadequate lighting. 

Transport Focus is asking that National Highways focuses on maintaining and improving the environment of these routes by: 

  • Resurfacing paths where necessary. 
  • Providing waste bins along paths at regular intervals. 
  • Improving lighting, visibility and infrastructure maintenance. 

Safety also played a crucial role for riders, walkers and wheelers. People often mentioned paths not being sufficiently separated from traffic and the lack of suitable crossing points. Horse riders also noted that low parapet heights on bridges were causes for concern. 

Transport Focus has recommended that National Highways invests in providing more routes for riders, walkers and wheelers which are segregated from traffic – whether that is a separate path or a physical barrier. It should also provide additional crossing points.  

To enhance accessibility for mobility impaired walkers, walkers with prams and wheelers, users suggested reducing the gradients of paths where possible, providing step-free access where appropriate, widening footpaths and providing dropped kerbs.    

What did riders, walkers and wheelers tell us? 

  • “Traffic moves too quickly and a separate trail to Moorswater is needed to allow safe access for walkers wheelers and cyclists.”
    (A38 Liskeard) 
  • “Even with our high vis on, after dark, some cars may come too close to us…there isn’t a lot of light in this area, so could do with a few more of those.”
    (A30 Bodmin) 
  •  “The stairs are a real barrier to people in wheelchairs, cyclists and people with pushchairs.  This is part of a key route into town and replacing the stairs with a ramp should be a priority.”
    (A38 Liskeard) 

In 2021, Transport Focus did a similar study exploring how cyclists, pedestrians, and equestrians interact with National Highways roads at locations in Yorkshire and the North East.  

It used the findings to engage with National Highways on potential upgrades at each of the locations, and has since been able to influence positive changes such as a new pedestrian footway adjacent to the A616 by Underbank Reservoir.  

National Highways also took themes from the research in Yorkshire and the North East and applied the learnings elsewhere. For example, it has increased the frequency of when shrubbery is cut back at crossing points – to improve visibility. It is also significantly widening a footpath on the A69 in Henshaw to improve pedestrian access.   

Commenting on both the previous research and the latest research in Devon and Cornwall, Director at Transport Focus, Louise Collins said:  

“The work in Yorkshire and the North East illustrates the real impact we have made for riders, walkers and wheelers by using our research to engage with National Highways.  

The latest insight from Devon and Cornwall will continue to be vital in the work we do with National Highways to make journeys better for riders, walkers and wheelers. We hope it enables it to implement best practice across its network and ensures these users are considered when new infrastructure is put into place.” 

Sites included in the research: 

  • the A38 Liskeard, Cornwall: Old Road Junction to Lantroom Quarry. 
  • the A38 Devon Expressway, Devon: Lee Mill Industrial Estate to Ivybridge. 
  • the A30 Penzance, Cornwall: Chy-An-Mor roundabout; and 
  • the A30: Bodmin to Trewint, Cornwall. 


Riders, walkers and wheelers in Devon and Cornwall – video transcript (Word).

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