Efficient network management policy area

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About this policy

Principle

Improve emissions intensity and energy efficiency of vehicles and operational efficiency of roads through technology improvements.

Purpose

To manage the operation and maintenance of the highway network so that it runs smoothly, and the effects of traffic on communities and the environment are minimised.

Policy statement

Achieving a smooth flow of traffic brings benefits to road users through better journey time reliability and a more pleasant driving experience. Reducing congestion also helps businesses, improves road safety and reduces emissions of carbon and local pollutants. Measures such as smarter traffic lights, improved road design, use and enforcement of speed limits, real-time traffic monitoring and signage will, in combination, allow us to relieve bottlenecks and operate a more efficient road network, as will better planning and delivery of roadworks and network maintenance. Measures will also proactively design out hazards to improve road safety. Where absolutely necessary, consideration will be given to providing additional road capacity. However, meeting the LTP4's carbon reduction objective will require a marked reduction in road traffic. Therefore, in most cases, there will not be a case for investing in new road capacity as experience shows this increases traffic levels, emissions and congestion. Instead, our focus needs to be on ensuring efficient use of the existing network without encouraging additional traffic.

Measures

Data driven network management

Managing the network effectively will rely on making best use of available data on traffic conditions from the growing range of available sources. On a day to day basis, efficient network management will continue to develop systems to use information gained from these sources to:

  • Allow network managers to respond quickly and effectively to provide a co-ordinated response to incidents and changing traffic conditions
  • Provide appropriate information to those travelling. This information could be made available for all transport modes through the Mobility as a Service framework (described in Public and Shared Transport) to help inform mode, route and travel timing choices.

We will continue our ongoing work to ensure that traffic signal patterns are optimised for changing conditions, particularly along key corridors and in central areas to minimise queuing. Within urban areas we will make good quality information on parking locations and availability available to drivers, making use of the road network more efficient by avoiding circulation of drivers searching for parking spaces.

New technologies can help to gather and disseminate information on conditions on the road network to enable effective management. Other technologies can actively influence driver behaviour to reduce emissions, such as the Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory (GLOSA) system. This aims to reduce carbon emissions, fuel consumption, and travel times by avoiding unnecessary stopping at junctions. Approaching vehicles are given speed recommendations based on current and future traffic light signal phase timings.

A 'Vision Zero' approach to road safety

We are currently developing a new Road Safety Strategy for Surrey. This is built upon 'Vision Zero', which follows the principle that it is neither inevitable nor acceptable that anyone should be killed or seriously injured when travelling. The aim is to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic.

Vision Zero road safety strategies follow the Safe Systems approach, based on:

  • Safe road use
  • Safe vehicles
  • Safe speeds
  • Safe roads and road sides
  • Post-crash response

As part of this approach, we will proactively design out hazards on the road network. This will include working towards default 20 miles per hour schemes in residential and shopping streets, in accordance with the Surrey Street Family Framework . We will look at using average speed cameras to reduce speeds in areas where infrastructure solutions are not possible. These measures will make these roads safer for all users and more attractive for active and personal mobility travel options.

Enforcement

Enforcement of rules such as bus lanes, cycle lanes and yellow box junctions is important to ensure the efficient operation of the road network. The police currently hold most of the powers for enforcement, but we, the county council, have been granted powers under the Traffic Management Act 2004, Part 6 which allow us to take on some enforcement roles, rather than relying on the police. To learn more about these powers and where we intend to use them, please see our Traffic camera management enforcement consultation for Dennis Roundabout, Guildford page.

These powers cover parking, red routes, bus lanes, and 'moving traffic' offences. We will investigate the opportunities provided by these powers in relation to enforcing school streets , using camera-based enforcement to limit vehicle access in 'Liveable Neighbourhoods' and in yellow box junction enforcement. Through these measures we will be able to reduce congestion and to improve conditions for travel by active or personal mobility options.

Targeted capacity improvements

Minor road capacity increases may be required in some locations to alleviate congestion hotspots (such as the level crossing at Ash). Other increases may be needed to remove traffic from sensitive communities, bringing significant improvements to residential or urban centre locations. In these limited cases, we will design schemes that bring significant reallocation of road space away from car and goods vehicle use, providing high-quality facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. In this way, the community will benefit from safer, more accessible and healthier streets to support active and other personal transport options and public transport, without the scheme delivering a significant increase in capacity for cars and goods vehicles.

We will also need to provide road connections to and through new developments, making sure that the developments are well designed to reduce travel distances and encourage multi-modal travel, in accordance with our sustainable travel hierarchy (shown on Active Travel policy page), such as in West Guildford at Park Barn and other locations.

Network maintenance

We will ensure the network, including walking and cycling routes, is maintained to a high standard through our Asset Management Strategy (PDF). We will make use of the increasing amount of data available in relation to our assets, to make maintenance more efficient, pro-active and preventative wherever possible, rather than reactively responding to faults.

Our maintenance approaches will take full account of protecting the environment in our policies, including reflecting the need to be resilient to inevitable climate change, and taking the opportunity to build in green infrastructure such as planting and sustainable drainage wherever possible.

Future-proofing for new technology

A key short-term consideration is accounting for the increasing number of electric vehicles on the road.

We also need to prepare for the ongoing progress towards connected and autonomous vehicles. Although fully autonomous vehicles (driverless vehicles) are not currently present on our roads, increasing numbers of vehicles on the road have some degree of autonomous features. Vehicles are also increasingly connected, transferring data with the wider world. We need to ensure our transport and digital networks support these developments and are ready to make best use of the opportunities they provide. For instance, increasing numbers of vehicles incorporating on board speed limiters will make digital enforcement of speed possible, providing further opportunities to smooth flow and improve emissions and safety

Contribution to LTP4 objectives

Net zero carbon emissions: Meeting the LTP4's carbon objective will require a marked reduction in road traffic and therefore in most cases there will not be a case for investing in new road capacity. Evidence shows that new capacity increases traffic levels and emissions. Instead, the focus will be on ensuring efficient use of the existing network without encouraging additional traffic. The most effective measures will be those that provide information to reduce travel distance (for instance avoiding diversions) and particularly those that smooth the flow of traffic (without increasing volumes). Emissions can be reduced by ensuring that traffic can travel at the most efficient speed for petrol and diesel vehicles (of between about 20 miles per hour and 50 miles per hour). This means avoiding inefficient congested conditions and very high speeds.

Sustainable growth: Managing traffic flow on our road network more efficiently will bring benefits to businesses in Surrey. Reducing congestion through improved use of information on network conditions, potential enforcement of road rules (if government grant us relevant enforcement powers) and targeted relief of congestion hotspots will improve reliability and journey times. Network management will also bring economic benefits through targeted additions to the network that allow land to be used for housing and economic development, relieving the constraint of limited land, particularly where it allows the expansion of existing economic clusters.

The LTP4 measures will also bring future economic benefits by ensuring that the road network is resilient. It will need to be developed to take account of future changes such as the predicted temperature rises and increased flooding that are associated with the level of climate change that is already inevitable. This will avoid future disruption and associated economic losses. Preparing for emerging technologies will allow our businesses to make the most of future opportunities.

Well-connected communities: Measures to manage the road network efficiently will improve journey time reliability and prioritisation for public transport and active modes. This will support social mobility through enhancing communities' connectivity by bus or active travel to opportunities such as employment, education and training. Through improving partnerships and data use, we will develop end-to-end journey management, rather than the traditional approach focussed within authority boundaries. This will improve connections between communities and neighbouring authorities and will increase reliability on journeys that cross boundaries.

Clean air and excellent quality of life: Measures will improve reliability and road safety for all forms of transport, with a particular focus on improving road safety for walking and cycling. Measures will also reduce congestion and idling, enabling a reduction in emissions and improving local air quality.

Delivery

The county council works with Highways England and neighbouring authorities to share data and coordinate management of the road network at the boundary between the Highways England network and local authority networks. The programme has generated benefits including improved monitoring of the network, improved coordination and operation of signals and response to incidents, reducing delay and improving journey time reliability. We will continue to obtain data from available and developing technology and by maintaining strong joint-working relationships with neighbouring authorities, Highways England and major trip generators to share data.

We are already exploring new ways to help keep traffic flowing on the network within current laws. For instance, our new lane rental scheme is the first of its kind to be adopted amongst local authorities, following successful pilot schemes in London and Kent. It reduces the impact of road and street works on traffic by charging utilities and others carrying out works for the amount of time that their works occupy space on the road. Reduced charges are also applied to encourage works to be done outside of peak traffic times. We are building on this scheme to coordinate street works, across the network and over a year, particularly for major street works. This will manage their impact on traffic flows on the road network and will allow residents and businesses to plan ahead. We will also look for opportunities to build on these plans further, through the additional powers made available through the Traffic Management Act 2004, Part 6.

To prevent any measures, such as providing information on parking locations and availability, from encouraging additional trips, they will be combined with measures to consolidate parking spaces to less central locations, outlined in the Demand Management for Cars Policy Area.

We will focus network management measures particularly on routes within or between the eight Strategic Opportunity Areas identified in the Surrey Place Ambition.

Policy context

Locally

  • Community Vision for 2030: 'Children and young people are safe and feel safe and confident.'; 'Everyone lives healthy, active and fulfilling lives, and makes good choices about their wellbeing.'; 'Residents live in clean, safe and green communities, where people and organisations embrace their environmental responsibilities.'; 'Journeys across the county are easier, more predictable and safer.'; 'Well connected communities, with effective infrastructure, that grow sustainably.'
  • Asset Management Strategy (PDF): Strategy setting out an informed and considered approach to the maintenance and future investment decisions for all infrastructure that the council has responsibility for within the highway boundary. This strategy sets out how we will deliver a service level against the Council's key priorities.
  • Lane Rental Scheme: Surrey's Lane Rental Scheme reduces the impact of road and street works on traffic by charging utilities and others carrying out works for the amount of time that their works occupy space on the road.
  • Road safety outside schools policy: This policy sets out the process that will be used by the council for investigating and responding to concerns about road safety outside schools. The aim is to reduce the risk of collisions, and to make the road feel safer in order to improve the attractiveness of walking and cycling to and from schools.
  • Setting Local Speed Limits Policy: This policy explains the roles, responsibilities and the procedure that will be followed by the council when deciding whether to change a speed limit.
  • Safer Roads Partnership Road Safety Strategy, 2019-21: The Drive SMART Road Safety Strategy for 2019-2022 (available to download from this page): Sets the overall aims of the Drive SMART partnership, outlines the relevant statutory duties and national policies in relation to road safety and describes how we will reduce harm and risk. This strategy will be superseded by our new Vision Zero Road Safety Strategy when it is published.
  • Traffic camera enforcement consultation for Dennis Roundabout, Guildford: Information on the Traffic Management Act part 6 powers that we applied for and how we intend to use these powers at Dennis Roundabout in Guildford.'

Nationally

  • Traffic Management Act, 2004: Guidance outlining the Council's network management duty and relevant powers and responsibilities. The guidance sets out high-level principles to help local authorities to manage their roads and what actions they should take.