Transport User Voice July 2024 – Riders, walkers and wheelers research

05 July 2024

A look ahead

When we think about National Highway’s roads, we often think about motorways bustling with cars, lorries and motorbikes. But nearly half of its network is ‘A’ roads – used frequently by those opting for more active forms of travel, like walking/wheeling, cycling, or riding a horse.

In 2021, we commissioned research to explore how cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians interact with National Highways roads in Yorkshire and the North East. The study focused on several locations in the region, assessing infrastructure and identifying opportunities for improvement.

Participants made suggestions on how their journeys could be improved, including:

  • Raising awareness of their presence to other road users with more signs.
  • Improving the maintenance of paths and foliage.
  • More accessible points to cross busy roads.

We used the research to engage with National Highways on potential upgrades at each of the case study locations. It is positive to see that National Highways has since considered our recommendations, providing an update of its progress at each location.

A616 at Langsett

a new crossinga new footpatha new footpath

Based on user feedback, our recommendations at this location included increasing the number of crossings, providing better signage and for additional speed controls or restrictions to be implemented in areas of high use.

In March this year, National Highways completed work on the A616 by Underbank Reservoir – delivering a new pedestrian footway adjacent to the A616, providing a link between the existing local authority walking routes.

This also resulted in improved signage and the extension of an existing speed restriction to cover the new crossing point.

A64 between Leeds and York

In the 2021 research, participants mentioned the lack of a coherent, connected cycle network.

A study is currently being carried out by National Highways looking at cycle provision around Headley Bar and towards Bramham. A site visit highlighted the poor condition of the existing shared use cycleway which has cracked along its length. We look forward to working with National Highways on the outcome of this study.

A66 west of Scotch Corner

At this location, people raised concerns around insufficient and unsuitable crossings combined with increasing traffic due to the development of additional retail units alongside the road.

It is promising to hear that, as part of the Northern Trans Pennine Major Project, a number of new and improved crossing points will be delivered. The design of the crossings is currently in progress and will be completed in 2026. It is expected they will be a combination of underpasses and bridges.

A19 around Cold Heseldon, Seaham

Insufficient signage and crossing points were some of the key issues mentioned by cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians at this location.

National Highways is currently working with Durham County Council to facilitate the construction of a new footbridge at the A19 / A182 junction, near Cold Heseldon. This new bridge will span across the A19 and provide a safer crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. Signage at this location will also be reviewed by Durham County Council as part of their improvement scheme.

This research is vital in the work we do with National Highways to make active journeys better across its network. So, it is positive to see that National Highways have made tangible changes at the locations we investigated in 2021.

It has also taken themes from this research 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.

What’s next?

We will soon be sharing similar new research – the renamed ‘Riders, walkers and wheelers’ survey includes experiences of users in Devon and Cornwall. On this occasion the definitions of each group were broadened – to be inclusive of a wider range of road users – such as people in wheelchairs, those using different types of mobility aids and parents with pushchairs.

We hope this enables National Highways to implement best practice – both in this location and beyond. In the long-term, we will use this research to ensure riders, walkers and wheelers are considered when new infrastructure is put into place.


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