Streets for all: user needs should guide how road space is allocated

27 July 2021

Changes in how road space is allocated are a key tool in boosting public transport and encouraging cycling and walking in our towns and cities. But how can that be done fairly, taking account of why people and businesses make journeys?

Transport Focus has carried out research into the consumer issues that should underpin decisions on the allocation of road space between pedestrians, bicycles, buses, cars, and vans/trucks.

We spoke to a variety of stakeholders representing the different types of users of urban roads. Together we explored the issues raised by users from the reconfiguration of the road layout on main roads and by Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. We had valuable advice from our sister organisation, London TravelWatch on the distinct context of pressures on the city’s road network.

Transport Focus has identified nine principles that should guide the approach made by highway authorities to any changes or future planning of road space.

Anthony Smith, Transport Focus chief executive, said:

“Fair allocation of scarce urban road space is no easy task. Road space allocation measures will inevitably reduce capacity on the roads for some.

“Our research shows the need for careful implementation by highway authorities, ensuring road users are crystal clear on all changes and how their journeys will be affected.”

The nine principles should ensure that user needs are uppermost in the planning, implementation and evaluation of changes that are being made to road layout.

While there is almost universal support for a push to active travel, it will be congestion and safety that remain most important for all road users. The overall assessment must therefore focus on how people and businesses can continue to use the road network to meet their needs.

Download report: Streets for all: consumer issues in road space allocation


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