Road User Voice – January 2016 – Road user director’s editorial
23 December 2015
With 2016 fast approaching, I thought I’d reflect on our achievements since we started representing the interests of users of Highways England’s network on 30 March.
We began by building our capacity and capability in this new area, including recruitment of the road user team, increasing our knowledge and building effective relationships with stakeholders. Not only the Department for Transport, Highways England and Office of Rail and Road (ORR), but organisations representing motorists, freight users, cyclists and pedestrians.
A key area of ongoing work has been development of a new survey to measure how satisfied Highways England’s customers, road users, are. This will be used by ORR to determine whether Highways England has met the Government’s specification for road user satisfaction. In due course the new survey will replace Highways England’s National Road User Satisfaction Survey (NRUSS).
In the summer Operation Stack was implemented on the M20, leading to widespread disruption to the road network in Kent. We, along with others, called for a long-term arrangement to avoid the need to shut the motorway. It was great to see £250 million allocated recently by government to bring this about. If you haven’t yet seen Highways England’s consultation on this, it’s here. Of course Operation Stack could be needed before construction is complete, so we have research ready to help understand the experiences of lorry drivers caught up if it happens.
We have also carried out and published research into road users’ priorities for improvements to the strategic road network. This large-scale piece of research has involved us speaking to over 5000 car and van drivers, as well as motorcyclists. Hot off the press this month is our HGV drivers’ priorities for improvements research. Across all users, we’ve established that the number one priority for improvement is in the quality of road surfaces. Don’t forget, you can find a progress update on all of our current work by clicking here.
In recent months we’ve also been meeting with non-motorised road user organisations to understand their needs and experiences of the network, as well as priorities for improvements. We’ll be publishing our findings next year. We’ve also started work on another two research projects, the first of which will gather road users’ views and experiences of roadside facilities – fieldwork begins in January 2016. The second will focus on users’ experiences during delays and disruption during a journey and we will shortly appoint a research agency to take this forward.
Since I last wrote we have been to TRL (formerly the Transport Research Laboratory) to see how, on Highways England’s behalf, it assesses the condition of the carriageway surface. It gave us a fascinating insight into how this is carried out over the 4600 miles of network. We’ve also been out with the chief executive of Moto in Berkshire and Oxfordshire to find out more about the motorway services sector and we’ve attended our first meeting of the Highways England Design Panel.
I hope you find this edition of Road User Voice interesting. Have a great Christmas and I wish you all the very best for 2016.
Road User Director