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Road User Voice May 2016: Road user director’s editorial

The Easter break seems a distant blur as we start to deliver our 2016/17 work plan. And we’ve a lot in the pipeline to keep road users’ needs and priorities at the forefront of Highways England’s thinking. Between now and March 2017 Transport Focus will be focusing mainly in three areas:

  • Piloting and then launching the new Strategic Roads User Survey (SRUS) to measure satisfaction with England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads.
  • Working to put road users’ views at the heart of the second Road Investment Strategy (covering the years 2020-2025).
  • Helping to bring about improvements in the way disruption is managed (whether caused by incidents or roadworks), including information and communication.

Fieldwork for three major pieces of research have now been completed and we publish the findings this summer. They will help us to understand road users’ experiences when they encounter delays – roadworks and incidents; research to understand needs and experiences when it comes to roadside facilities; and lorry drivers’ views about the facilities required at the proposed lorry park off the M20 – plus their experiences of queuing on the A20 outside Dover (‘Operation Tap’).

With development of the SRUS making good progress we’re turning our attention to understanding satisfaction among other key users of the Strategic Road Network – the logistics sector, coach operators, cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. I recently chaired a meeting with the Ramblers Association, Cycling UK, Living Streets and Sustrans to explore their views about this. Their input will be extremely helpful as we consider the way forward in this area.

What else have we been up to? Our road user panel met recently, allowing us to bring a range of stakeholders up to speed with our latest research. Our chief executive, Anthony Smith, addressed the UK Transport Infrastructure Summit and I spoke at the Institution of Civil Engineers roads conference. We’ve also visited a major haulier’s distribution centre to learn about its needs from Highways England’s network, and we’ve spoken at a conference about learning from the Dutch when planning roadworks. We recently met Welcome Break, operators of 27 motorway service areas, and discussed, among other things, emerging findings from our roadside facilities research and the shortage of spaces for HGVs to park.

Finally, one of the things freight companies say to us is that information about roadworks can’t be relied on. And we’ve noticed that the information is not very user-friendly, even when accurate. We are continuing discussions with Highways England about its initiatives to improve things – and we’ll stay on this subject until there is a marked improvement and those who rely on roadworks information to plan their businesses tell us it is no longer a problem.

Guy Dangerfield
Road User Director

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