Birmingham Box Managed Motorways: 'after Construction' User Consultation on the Impacts of Hard Shoulder Running



Birmingham Box Managed Motorways: 'after Construction' User Consultation on the Impacts of Hard Shoulder Running

Authors

P Unwin, D Cooke, Highways Agency, UK; N Myers, J Baker, A Tuerk, A Arlow, Mott MacDonald, UK

Description

Qualitative and quantitative user research on a new Managed Motorway scheme in Birmingham supported by extensive traffic/safety monitoring. The paper identifies the successes achieved and lessons which may help to inform future scheme design.

Abstract

Phase 1 Ex-Post Consultation Results

This abstract reports on the latest stage of a series of pieces of research which are monitoring user reactions to the progressive implementation of Managed Motorway solutions on the Birmingham Motorway Network (the ?Box?). Managed Motorways provide a range of benefits of which the most noticeable include the use of variable speed limits to manage traffic flow and reduce congestion, vehicle detection and information systems to minimise the impact of accidents, and the use of hard shoulders to provide an auxiliary traffic lane in congested conditions.

Managed Motorway solutions are now a high priority in the UK as they enable economic growth by tackling congestion for a lower level of investment than that required for road widening. Moreover, Managed Motorway solutions do not have the level of environmental impact associated with new roads.

The latest research provides ?ex-post? data which complements ?ex-ante? research into the attitudes of potential users of ?Phase 1?

Over 1000 surveys were completed as a part of this research, which was comprised of Focus Groups with regular car drivers and commercial vehicle drivers, as well as interviews with HGV drivers. Through this research programme a range of lessons have been learned which help to reinforce the understanding of the benefits of such solutions, and which also provide feedback to inform the designers of future schemes.

The research has demonstrated that the scheme has largely achieved its purpose. A few key findings and lessons learned are summarised below.

Respondents see the main benefits as:
? Improved traffic flow
? Eased congestion
? Reduced stop-start conditions

In all 73% of respondents rated the ability to use the hard shoulder in congested periods as good or very good.

The proportion of drivers concerned at road safety conditions has reduced from 43% to 26%.

Respondents have identified a few residual concerns:
? The need to complete the Motorway Box in order to maximise benefits
? Despite the improvements, drivers are still not able to travel as freely as they would like
? Ongoing concern about availability of refuge areas when the hard shoulder is being used as a running lane
? Drivers would like more advance notice of changes in lane use, such as on the approach to junctions when the hard shoulder may only be for exit traffic
? Drivers do not yet fully understand how variable mandatory speed limits are determined

The research is being considered to establish where there may be a need to modify future schemes to address emerging issues and where there may be a need to provide enhanced information to motorists to enable them to use the scheme most effectively.

The lessons learned from this scheme will continue to help to inform roll-out in the UK and offer valuable intelligence which will support the take-up of similar solutions elsewhere in Europe.

Publisher

Association for European Transport