THE CREEPING invasion of Britain's countryside by urban living is slammed in a report published by the ICE this week.
Rural Routes and Networks shows the British countryside struggling to withstand a 1000% increase in motorised traffic over the last 50 years.
It highlights two trends afflicting modern-day Britain's countryside: the breakdown of rural transport networks as footpaths and bridleways are severed by sections of busy road; and the urbanisation of roads in rural locations. This is blighting the landscape and the lives of Britain's rural residents.
The report is critical of the lowest common denominator approach to rural development, which contrives to create identikit communities built from non-local materials, with inappropriate landscaping and scant attention to natural regional variations.
Poor design is identified as contributing to the problem, where the appearance of rural roads has been blighted by 'signs, lines, concrete and clutter'.
The report goes on to identify simple, practical measures such as segregated footways that can be used to reverse the trend.
'For the past 50 years we have given the motor vehicle priority in the countryside. This has driven most walkers, cyclists and horse riders off the road, and even off country lanes, ' said Rural Routes working group chairman John Thackray.
'Hedge-to-hedge tarmac, widened junctions and other measures taken by highway engineers appeared to be what the public wanted. But when a great many of the cars on the road are there for leisure purposes, there is every reason to give equal status to nonmotorised alternatives.
'Civil engineers now have an enormous role to play in increasing people's freedom to enjoy the countryside. At the minimum we should ensure that highway improvements benefit walkers and riders as much as vehicle users, ' said Thackray.
INFOPLUS Rural Routes and Networks is available for £10 from the ICE bookshop, tel (020) 7665 2462