The UK Roads Board has worked up a draft specification for new research on machine surveys and asked ministers to consider reforms to the self-assessment process.
The information was released in the minutes of the latest board meeting [held virtually], which revealed the group would be writing to ask the Department for Transport (DfT) 'to consider adding in footways and cycleways in the self-assessment process'.
A review of the self-assessment process behind the Incentive Fund element of highways maintenance cash was expected after the fund reached the end of its first block from 2015-2016 to 2020-21.
The self-assessment process has seen local authorities in England lose out on cash for not reaching certain standards, and Department for Transport (DfT) officials had suggested it would be reviewed to check the questionnaire was up to date.
The UK Roads Board also discussed the COVID-19 recovery and said the 'next growing element of work will be the focus on walking and cycling'.
It highlighted a letter from Emma Ward, DfT’s director general of roads, places and environment, 'on walking and cycling and measures to put in place for prioritising active travel based on data'.
Chair of the UKRLG's Footway and Cycleways Management Group, David Kinsey, has been tasked with considering what role the group could undertake to support the Government’s aims of increasing walking and cycling either 'by scanning experiences across the UK or by sign-posting useful guidance'.
Under the research section, the minutes also state: 'A draft specification has been circulated for comment on the project to develop a specification for machine surveys on unclassified roads.
'A 2nd workshop was due to take place in the Spring but was delayed due to COVID-19. A virtual meeting is being planned.'
The board also raised concerns 'that there was no funding for SCANNER or SCRIM surveys for 2020/21 for London Boroughs'.
'This would result in the absence of London data from the state of the nation report and boroughs would not have up to date data to support maintenance decisions.'
It was not mentioned why the money is unavailable, although London boroughs have faced austerity and do receive financial support from Transport for London (TfL), which was experiencing serious financial difficulties even before COVID-19 and the drastic financial situation that arose from the loss of fares over lockdown.
TfL recently received a £1.6bn rescue package from central government on the understanding that fares would be raised.
It was also noted that the NWSRG had teamed up with Highways Awards to create a winter service category this year, designed to support best practice use of the NWSRG guidance.