People want convenient door-to-door journeys by public transport. They also want streets and lanes that are attractive and pleasant to spend time in. Unfortunately transport has often planned in a haphazard way: rail and bus services often don’t join up well, while heavy traffic ends up rat-running through residential streets and along country lanes. Other northern European countries tend to do better through more systematic planning and greater integration. In particular this involves treating minor roads and minor bus routes differently.
For public transport, rather than having different forms of transport and different routes trying to compete with each other, this can mean developing integrated networks where different forms of transport complementing each other, such by changing services on smaller routes into dedicated feeder services. This helps tackle the problem of having some buses running three-quarters empty for most of their routes, which is neither environmentally friendly nor cost effective. The downside is that people may have to change services more often but where timetabling and ticketing are integrated, the benefits significantly outweigh the disadvantages.
In relation to the road network, this means moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to road design and management. Instead different types of roads with different functions are categorised and treated differently, and thought is given how they function as a network, an approach that is sometimes called road or network hierarchies. In practice this makes it clearer what type of road you are on and what its function is. Streets tend to be lower down the hierarchy are primarily for access and tend to have lower speed limits and less signage, while different types of road users are encouraged to share the same space. Roads higher up the hierarchy tend to be for longer distance traffic and have higher speed limits and segregate different types of users, except where they pass through town centres, for example.
This integrated approach also joins up with the rights of way network and cycle tracks better, so that there are safe routes to schools, stations etc. as well as circular leisure routes. New powers for local authorities mean these continental approaches can now more easily be applied in this country.