Think of the last time you drove on a motorway or major ‘A’ road. How was it? Did it match up to your expectations? Was your journey long or short? Did you travel through roadworks or get caught up in a crash? Was it a clear, stress-free run? Did you take a break at a motorway service area?
Since 2015 Transport Focus has been representing the interests of those who use the Highways England road network. It’s our job to find out what users want and to press for improvements to be made. We’ve been busy talking to road users, finding out what they think about a number of things as they travel around the country. It has been fascinating to hear about the user experience of smart motorways (published last month), motorway service areas, and to learn how cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians want to be catered for on these important transport arteries.
We’ve known from some of our earliest research that quality of the road surface is users’ top priority for improvement. It makes sense that this is the case. The road surface is the only thing that a road user experiences on every journey. You might not encounter bad weather, roadworks or find yourself on a smart motorway, but your vehicle tyres (or hooves, footwear or bicycle tyres for that matter!) always make contact with the road. And that’s important for road users because they can spend a long time on it!
We’ve looked further into the subject to find out what is it about the surface that road users want Highways England to improve. Transport Focus is delighted to be at Highways UK again this year and I’m pleased to announce that we will be launching our latest research ‘Road surfacing: what road users want from Highways England’ at the event. The launch will take place in the Carillion Theatre at 09.40 on the opening morning. Do come along and speak to my colleagues Guy Dangerfield and Lee Rowbotham.
The road surface quality research is funded jointly by Transport Focus and Highways England. That’s a clear signal of intent from Highways England to understand what road users really want when it comes to road surfaces. We welcome their desire to put the view of the road user at the heart of things. It’s important that the findings from this and our other research really shape what users experience in future.
Our work to ensure that the user voice is heard loud and clear by Highways England and Government during development of the second road investment strategy (RIS2) gathers pace, with the release of three key publications in recent months. ‘Road users’ priorities for the Road Investment Strategy, 2020-25′, ‘Measuring performance of England’s strategic roads: what users want’ and ‘Road to the future – What road users want from Highways England’s 2020-25 Route Strategies’ all provide significant insight into what road users want.
My colleagues and I will be at Highways UK. Meet us on our exhibition stand, catch my presentation in the main theatre in a session that includes both Jim O’Sullivan and Lord Adonis or come to the road surface quality launch mentioned above. If you have an interest in the Highways England road network and want to know what users are saying, come along, say hello and find out.
Anthony Smith is Chief Executive of Transport Focus
Anthony Smith – CEO, Transport Focus