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Guide sets out vision for better road design

07 July 2022


A guide designing better roads that are “environmentally sustainable” and “fit with their surroundings” has been published by National Highways.

Good road design can help both minimise greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on the climate and adapt to the actual or anticipated impacts of climate change to ensure future resilience, the guide says.

Recommendations in the guide include: improving “legibility” of roads, with “clues” as to how to drive and what to expect ahead; limiting roadside “clutter” which can be detrimental to the character of the environment and the safety of users, with over-provision of signage can result in information overload and should be designed out at an early stage.

“Monotonous tunnel-like corridors with no varied views or interest should be avoided as they may increase driver fatigue”, says the guide.

“Good road design should seek to reduce potential noise in the local area, with earth mounds and the choice of road surfaces being considered alongside changes in horizontal and vertical alignment.”

Steps should be taken to avoid the “severance of natural systems”, especially when “crossing waterways to protect animal and plant life”. This can be achieved through crossing points or “green bridges” that fit with natural patterns and feature local native planting, says the guide.

Boundaries by the side of roads should respond to the local character of an area, with opportunities taken to incorporate walking and cycling paths and to plant local native vegetation, it adds.

A second report, ‘On the road to good design: Design review at National Highways', offers an independent overview of the design and construction of roads over a four-year period following the initial launch of the Strategic Design Panel. 

This is based on the findings of design reviews set up to consider individual road schemes and standards in more depth, said National Highways. The report says that the extra scrutiny supplied by the process has helped schemes “deliver positive impacts for local communities and better environmental outcomes”, as well as ensuring National Highways shares best practice and works efficiently.

A third document, ‘Learning on the road to good design: Case studies’, captures examples from the UK and abroad highlighting the value and wider benefits of good design. Learning from best practice is a key principle of good design.

Mike Wilson, National Highways’ chief highways engineer, said: “The purpose of these publications is to challenge thinking about the design and demonstrate how National Highways is meeting its licence requirements in respect to good design and its leading role promoting good design amongst infrastructure providers.”

On the road to good design

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