Good road design

An aerial view of a winding road through a wooded area. Good road design is needed.How much design thought goes into roads and highway? Is it just left to engineers, or are other designers involved? Seems times are changing and a bit more thought is going into roads in the UK. The Design Council has an article that lists the ten principles of good road design that include words such as inclusive and sustainable. The principles were adopted on the recommendations of Highways England Strategic Design Panel and follow the themes of people, places and processes:

      1. makes roads safe and useful
      2. is inclusive
      3. makes roads understandable
      4. fits in context
      5. is restrained
      6. is environmentally sustainable
      7. is thorough
      8. is innovative
      9. is collaborative
      10. is long-lasting

Fourth progress report

Two cars on a road in rural England. This work was updated in 2021 with the fourth progress report. Over the past year and a half, the Panel made the following key recommendations. Highways England should: 

    • accelerate communication and training to promote and embed its design vision and principles into its processes and culture
    • act on the Panel’s recommendations for adapting to climate change, reducing carbon, supporting biodiversity and the design of corridors
    • publish a design strategy to clearly articulate its ambitions for the second road period and beyond

Highways England espouses lofty ideals: “We aim to put people at the heart of our work by designing an inclusive, resilient and sustainable road network; appreciated for its usefulness but also its elegance, reflecting in its design the beauty of the natural, built and historic environment through which it passes, and enhancing it where possible.”  


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