Enhanced junction designs “make it clear to drivers that they need to give way”

Media Relations Team, 31 May 2023

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A side road junction in London

A recently completed research project has identified two side road crossing designs that encourage drivers to give way to people crossing and waiting to cross – as required by the Highway Code since January 2022.

The project was carried out by academics at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), with funding provided by The Road Safety Trust.

The researchers set out to understand the impacts of enhanced side road designs that both increase priority and reduce risk for people walking and cycling. It is particularly significant because of changes to the Highway Code that came into effect from 29 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 Bristol’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 with so-called ‘parallel crossings’ that have a zebra for pedestrians and priority markings for the cycle track crossing.
  • Design Priority crossings, also called continuous footways, where priority is reinforced by the layout and surface materials.

With both of these enhancements, people crossing did not have to yield to drivers in approximately 90% of interactions compared with 43% of interactions at conventional junctions.

The researchers found that users realise the importance of Marked Priority and Design Priority enhancements being implemented consistently and appropriately across the country in order to minimise ambiguity and confusion.

The project was led by John Parkin, professor of transport engineering and deputy director of the Centre for Transport and Society at UWE Bristol.

Professor Parkin said: “Many side road junctions are designed mainly with movement for vehicles on the carriageway in mind, and they have generous corner radii and wide carriageways. The key point is that priority for people crossing, as required by the Highway Code, is not clear from the design.

“The project explored the use of priority markings that make it clear to drivers that they need to give way to pedestrians and cyclists who are crossing a side road. These are give way markings placed before the pedestrian and/or cycle track crossing, and sometimes also a zebra crossing for pedestrians. 

“The findings have been compared with previous research on priority that has been enhanced by the design having a raised footway and/or cycle track that is continuous across the side road.

“On nearly half of occasions at conventional junctions, people crossing yielded voluntarily to turning drivers. The effect of enhanced junctions was to reduce this proportion and created more occasions when drivers gave way to people crossing. Both Marked Priority designs with a zebra, and Design Priority designs (continuous footways) increased the proportion of times people did not yield to vehicles from around 50% at control sites to around 90%.”

Sonya Hurt, chief executive of The Road Safety Trust, said: “When it comes to encouraging more people to walk and cycle, safety is paramount.

“We are delighted with the outcomes from this project, including recommendations for side road crossing designs most likely to encourage drivers to give way, thereby reducing risk for those travelling by foot or on bike.”

To find out more about the project, visit The Road Safety Trust website.

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