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Research identifies side road designs to support new Highway Code

2 June 2023

New research from the University of the West of England (UWE) has identified side road designs that encourage drivers to give way to pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross – as required by recent changes to the Highway Code.

The aim of the UWE project was to provide a basis for better side road designs, so that risk for road users is reduced.

This was achieved by analysing and categorising different types of provision, investigating the risk reduction of different designs, understanding how road users behave in different circumstances, and why they behave in the way they do. The team at UWE Bristol expects this well researched evidence base to underpin future design standards and guidance and help make roads safer for everyone.

The Road Safety Trust grant allowed them to explore in depth the issues linked to the design of side road layouts and the way priority is offered to different users. Understanding user behaviour allowed them to provide recommendations for principles to be adopted for further developments in making streets more comfortable, attractive and safe for all users.

Researchers set out to understand the impacts of enhanced side road designs that both increase priority and reduce risk for people walking and cycling, which they said is particularly significant because of changes to the Highway Code that came into effect from January 2022.

These changes mean drivers turning in or out of a side road should now give way not only to pedestrians and cyclists who are crossing but also to waiting pedestrians and approaching cyclists.

The research team from UWE’s Centre for Transport and Society, observed behaviour at different types of side road crossing, and revealed two designs where drivers were more likely to give way:

  • Marked Priority crossings (above) with so-called ‘parallel crossings’ that have a zebra for pedestrians and priority markings for the cycle track crossing.
  • Design Priority crossings (below), also called continuous footways, where priority is reinforced by the layout and surface materials.


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