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Foreword by the Secretary of State for Transport
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a terrible impact on the lives and health of many UK citizens. But it has also resulted in cleaner air, quieter streets – and an extraordinary rise in walking and cycling.
Cycling increased by 46% last year, the biggest rise in postwar history. Many more people have discovered the joys of cycling. In many places, the delivery bike has now become as common a sight as the delivery van.
An important part in the rise has been played by the hundreds of schemes to promote cycling and walking installed under this network management duty (NMD) guidance since the beginning of the pandemic. We want to secure those schemes, and the gains they have helped achieve, and to go further.
As we emerge from the pandemic, local authorities should continue to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians and to maintain the changes they have already made.
Remarkable work has been done by many authorities, achieving significant change in a short period. A few, however, have removed or watered down schemes, sometimes within a few weeks or days, or without notice, or both. Of course, not every scheme is perfect, and a minority will not stand the test of time. But we are clear that schemes must be given that time. They must be allowed to bed in, must be tested against more normal traffic conditions and must be in place long enough for their benefits and disbenefits to be properly evaluated and understood.
We have no interest in requiring councils to keep schemes which are proven not to work. But that proof must be presented. Schemes must not be removed prematurely or without proper evidence. And any decisions on whether to remove or modify them must be publicly consulted on with the same rigour as we require for decisions to install them. This guidance lays out new standards for consultation, including the use of objective methods, such as professional polling, to provide a genuine picture of local opinion, rather than listening only to the loudest voices.
In this way, we will do what is necessary to ensure that transport networks support recovery from the emergency and provide a lasting legacy of greener, safer travel.
Secretary of State for Transport
Network management duty guidance
This guidance is additional statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State for Transport under section 18 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 (‘the act’).
It applies to all highway authorities in England, who shall have regard to this guidance to deliver their network management duty under the act. It is effective from the date of publication and replaces the guidance published on 9 May 2020 and updated on 23 May 2020 and 13 November 2020.
It does not replace the original Network management duty guidance published in November 2004, but provides additional advice. In particular, it may guide authorities in how to make permanent and capitalise on changes made during the pandemic, to help meet the ambitions set out in Gear change.
The guidance sets out high-level principles to help local authorities to manage their roads and what actions they should take.
Reallocating road space: measures
As set out in ‘Gear change’, we continue to expect local authorities to take measures to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling. The focus should now be on devising further schemes and assessing COVID-19 schemes with a view to making them permanent. The assumption should be that they will be retained unless there is substantial evidence to the contrary. Authorities should also be considering how to introduce further active travel schemes, building on those already delivered.
Measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, but not at the expense of consulting local communities. Any measures for cycling should be designed to meet the requirements set out in Local transport note 1/20: cycle infrastructure design (LTN 1/20). The summary principles contained in LTN 1/20 should be followed as far as possible to implement safe cycling schemes for people of all abilities, including disabled people.
None of these measures are new – they are interventions that are a standard part of the traffic management toolkit and a step-change in their roll-out continues to be needed to maintain a green recovery. They include:
- installing cycle facilities with a minimum level of physical separation from volume traffic; for example, mandatory cycle lanes, using light segregation features such as flexible plastic wands; converting traffic lanes into cycle lanes (suspending parking bays where necessary); widening existing cycle lanes to enable cyclists to maintain distancing. Facilities should be segregated as far as possible, ie with physical measures separating cyclists and other traffic. Lanes indicated by road markings only are very unlikely to be sufficient to deliver the level of change needed, especially in the longer term
- encouraging walking and cycling to school, for example, through the introduction of more ‘school streets’. These are areas around schools where motor traffic is restricted at pick-up and drop-off times, during term-time. They have been effective in encouraging more walking and cycling, particularly where good facilities exist on routes to the school and where the parents, children and school are involved as part of the scheme development
- reducing speed limits: 20mph speed limits are being more widely adopted as an appropriate speed limit for residential roads and many through streets in built-up areas. 20mph limits alone will not be sufficient to meet the needs of active travel, but in association with other measures, reducing the speed limit can provide a more attractive and safer environment for walking and cycling
- introducing pedestrian and cycle zones: restricting access for motor vehicles at certain times (or at all times) to specific streets, or networks of streets, particularly town centres and high streets. This will enable active travel but also social distancing in places where people are likely to gather
- modal filters (also known as filtered permeability); closing roads to motor traffic, for example by using planters or large barriers. Often used in residential areas, when designed and delivered well, this can create low-traffic or traffic-free neighbourhoods, which have been shown to lead to a more pleasant environment that encourages people to walk and cycle, and improved safety
- providing additional cycle parking facilities at key locations, such as outside stations and in high streets, to accommodate an increase in cycling, for example, by repurposing parking bays to accommodate cycle racks
- changes to junction design to accommodate more cyclists, as set out in LTN 1/20 – for example, low-level cycle signals, new forms of signal control such as ‘hold the left turn’ and two-stage turns
- ‘whole-route’ approaches to create corridors for buses, cycles and access only on key routes into town and city centres
- identifying and bringing forward permanent schemes already planned, for example, under local cycling and walking infrastructure plans
The removal of social distancing requirements means temporarily widened footways may no longer be needed in many places and authorities should consider removing these and reinstating the original road layout, including any parking bays. However, the potential to encourage walking and improve public spaces through retaining widened footways permanently should be carefully considered.
Monitoring and evaluation
Trial or experimental schemes should be left in place for the full duration of the temporary traffic regulation order (TTRO) or experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO), where appropriate, or where no traffic regulation order (TRO) is required, until at least 12 months’ traffic data is available and has been published. This will allow them to settle in and for changes in travel patterns and behaviours to become apparent so that an informed decision can be made. Adjustments may be necessary to take account of real-world feedback but the aim should be to retain schemes and adjust, not remove them, unless there is substantial evidence to support this.
In assessing how and in what form to make schemes permanent, authorities should collect appropriate data to build a robust evidence base on which to make decisions. This should include traffic counts, pedestrian and cyclist counts, traffic speed, air quality data, public opinion surveys and consultation responses.
Consultation and community engagement should always be undertaken whenever authorities propose to remove, modify or reduce existing schemes and whenever they propose to introduce new ones. Engagement, especially on schemes where there is public controversy, should use objective methods, such as professional polling to British Polling Council standards, to establish a truly representative picture of local views and to ensure that minority views do not dominate the discourse. Consultations are not referendums, however. Polling results should be one part of the suite of robust, empirical evidence on which decisions are made.
Some interventions, including new lightly-segregated cycle lanes, will not require TROs. Others will require TROs, of which there are different types. The main ones are:
- permanent: this process includes prior consultation on the proposed scheme design, a 21-day notice period for statutory consultees and others who can log objections; there can be a public inquiry in some circumstances
- experimental: these are used to trial schemes that may then be made permanent. Authorities must put in place monitoring arrangements and carry out ongoing consultation once the measure is built. Although the initial implementation period can be quick, local residents and businesses should still be given an opportunity to comment on proposed changes and the need for extra monitoring and consultation afterwards can make them a more onerous process overall. Schemes installed using experimental orders are subject to a requirement for ongoing consultation for 6 months once in place, with statutory consultees including bus operators, emergency services and freight industry representatives. This consultation allows a trial scheme to be adjusted in the light of experience and feedback, which can lead to a better scheme overall. Schemes should be monitored and evaluated to help make decisions as to whether the scheme should be made permanent and if so in what form
- temporary: these can be in place for up to 18 months. There is a 7-day notice period prior to making the TRO and a 14-day notification requirement after it is made, plus publicity requirements. It is also recommended that authorities consult local residents and businesses at the design stage to ensure schemes will not have unintended consequences
Emergency legislation was made in May 2020 to temporarily introduce an emergency procedure for the making of temporary traffic orders. The main change was to the means of advertising the order, which could have been digital-only. This expired on 30 April 2021. Any TROs made using the emergency procedures under the Traffic Orders Procedure (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 can continue to be in place for up to 18 months.
Traffic authorities will, however, need to consider the reason for the measures included in each TTRO or ETRO and whether the case for them remains valid. TTROs can be made for these reasons set out in section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984:
- because works are being or are proposed to be executed on or near the road
- because of the likelihood of danger to the public, or of serious damage to the road, which is not attributable to such works
- for the purpose of enabling the duty imposed by section 89(1)(a) or (2) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (litter clearing and cleaning) to be discharged
It is therefore important to remember that there needs to be a valid, transport related reason for the measures in place, for example, active travel measures or widened pavements and pedestrianised areas to protect the safety of and make space for pedestrians.
Any TROs made since 1 May 2021 need to revert to using the existing procedures set out in the relevant regulations. This essentially means continued use of local newspapers for publicity of proposed and made TROs.
TROs may include or exempt vehicular traffic of any class specified in the order. Authorities should consider exempting from restrictions vehicles that deliver essential services and that are easily identifiable for enforcement purposes. For example, these may include emergency service vehicles, Royal Mail vehicles as a universal postal service provider and contracted rubbish collection vehicles. Exempt vehicles are not always indicated on the associated traffic signing, hence the need for them to be easily identifiable to ensure enforcement action is not taken against them.
Access will still be required for other activities in the road, particularly street works, maintenance and other highway works, which will need to be balanced with work to reallocate road space to active travel. Street works and maintenance activity must continue to be permitted, as they will be essential to getting the economy going again and maintenance works cannot be delayed indefinitely. Utilities need to continue to be able to access their infrastructure so, for example, concrete planters that cannot be moved should not be placed over underground apparatus. Use of the Street Manager digital service will help to plan and co-ordinate works.
Depending on the measures they are installing, authorities will also need to consider access for Blue Badge holders, (including parking and safe access to the kerb at sufficient locations to enable access, to pick up and drop off badge holders, including taxi services), deliveries and other essential services as appropriate.
Any changes to Blue Badge parking provision need to be carefully considered and local groups representing disabled people should be consulted. If cycling and walking schemes require bays to be moved, alternatives should be provided such as relocating bays elsewhere nearby, bearing in mind the need for such bays to be close to shops and services.
Engagement and consultation
When implementing these changes, authorities need to consider the impact on all road users, taking into account the need to provide for increased walking and cycling. Different types of intervention will be appropriate in different areas of the country. For example, what is appropriate in urban areas (including market towns) may not be suitable in more rural areas where a large proportion of journeys are too long to be made on foot or by cycle and people are more reliant on private vehicles.
As set out in Local transport note 1/20: cycle infrastructure design, effective engagement with the local community, particularly at an early stage, is essential to ensuring the political and public acceptance of any scheme. The department advises engagement as good practice even where there is no legal requirement to do so for the measures being proposed.
Authorities should seek input from stakeholders during the design phase of any scheme, in particular:
- local chiefs of police and emergency services must be consulted to ensure access is maintained where needed, for example, to roads that are closed to motor traffic
- local businesses, including business improvement districts, those based on local high streets and those that are temporarily closed, should be informed and given an opportunity to comment to ensure proposals meet their needs. The need for kerbside access for deliveries and servicing should be taken into account and balanced against the need to provide protected space for walking and cycling, for example, through the use of floating loading bays
- Royal Mail, to ensure that access can be maintained to post boxes and to premises for collections and deliveries, to enable them to meet their legal obligations to deliver a universal postal service
- local disability groups should be consulted at an early stage of scheme development. Any online engagement or consultation materials should comply with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 to ensure they are accessible to disabled people
Engagement should include publicity and on-street information warning of forthcoming changes to road layouts so that drivers are aware of them and can adjust their route and future journeys if necessary. Digital map providers should also be informed of changes, so that satellite navigation software is updated promptly, to avoid drivers being given a route that is closed to them. This will also assist delivery and logistics drivers to re-plan routes in advance and avoid unnecessary delays.
Accessibility requirements apply to all measures, both temporary and permanent. The Public Sector Equality Duty still applies and in making any changes to their road networks, authorities must ensure that elements of a scheme do not discriminate, directly or indirectly and must consider their duty to make reasonable adjustments anticipating the needs of those with protected characteristics, for example, by carrying out equality impact assessments on proposed schemes. Engagement with groups representing disabled people and others with protected characteristics should be carried out at an early stage of scheme development.
Visually impaired people, particularly, may find navigating through changed layouts difficult if they are not thought through at the design and consultation stage. Guide Dogs, RNIB, the Thomas Pocklington Trust and Visionary have jointly produced a guidance document for local authorities which provides advice on designing temporary measures for visually impaired people.