Motorway services leave pedestrians fending for themselves
12 score no points for pedestrian facilities
Tebay and Norton Canes named England’s best for pedestrians
A mess of conflicting signs, worn-away road markings and bewildering road layouts … and that’s before you get out of the car. This is the harsh reality of “taking a break” at many of our motorway service areas, according to a survey of 85 pit-stops on the England’s motorway network, carried out by the Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA).
The survey assessed the external layout of motorway service areas, including two criteria for pedestrians: amenity (are walkways in place); and quality (are they visible, logical, easy to use) – and combined scores out of a possible 60.
Tebay (northbound) on the M6 and Norton Canes on M6 Toll scored 52 points, as each featured clearly marked zebra crossings with a network of major access walkways and in some cases extending these along all available parked rows, minimising pedestrian interaction with vehicle movements.
Twelve of the service areas surveyed (Colsterworth; Leicester (Markfield); London Gateway; Toddington; Fleet; Sedgmoor; Taunton Dean; Charnock Richard; Corley; Chester; Rivington; Burtonwood) in the opinion of the RSMA made inadequate provision for pedestrians and gained a zero score. Common failures in the league table included worn out pedestrian crossings; no dropped kerb for disabled access; walkways littered with refuse bins, trees and advertising hoardings; and a zebra crossing leading walkers into manoeuvring traffic.
Commenting on the findings, RSMA national director, George Lee, said: “Drivers are encouraged to break their journey and may be stopping while under the pressures of a long period of driving, bored and fractious children or worse still, a child who has just wailed ‘I feel sick…’
“They switch from a relatively orderly road with single-direction traffic and few distractions to a barrage of advertising, direction signs and other drivers in a state of confusion and tension.
“Once they leave the car, the rules of the road are abandoned, and they are left to weave among rows of parked cars and moving traffic to reach the facilities. “For many, this makes ‘taking a break’ a stressful event.”
The RSMA survey comes within weeks of research conducted by road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), in which 79 per cent of the 1753 drivers asked said they would only choose to stop and take a rest if a motorway service area is located in a convenient place on their journey.
George Lee went on: “While thankfully, injuries and collisions are normally avoided due to overall low speeds, there must be countless ‘near misses’, causing anxiety for pedestrians and drivers alike.
“Tebay and Norton Canes demonstrate what ‘good’ looks like, and it’s time some of those with the poorest scores bring scruffy, neglected and pedestrian-unfriendly car parks up to 2015 standards.”
Holidaymakers and hauliers, van drivers and motorcyclists can share their experiences – good, bad and near misses, where they will be incorporated into a comprehensive report on MSA exteriors for issue in the autumn.
In its rules for drivers, the Government says that driving when tired greatly increases your risk of collision, and to minimise this risk, take a break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving.
Motorway service areas on the Highways England network are run by a number of private operators – larger ones including Moto, Welcome Break and Roadchef and smaller operators such as Westmorland and Stop 24.