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Roads: Manholes

Transport written question – answered on 12th December 2011.

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Photo of Yasmin Qureshi Yasmin Qureshi Labour, Bolton South East

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department is taking to improve the standard of grip for (a) two wheeled vehicles on manholes and (b) inspection covers on roads in England.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

The majority of manhole and inspection covers placed on the highway network are the responsibility of utility companies, with a small percentage under the ownership of local highway authorities, and so are not the responsibility of the Department for Transport.

However, the Department has been working with the Institute of Highways and Incorporated Engineers (IHIE) to develop Guidelines for Motorcycling. Section 6.3.16 of the guide encourages designers and maintenance engineers to ensure that covers should not be positioned in the carriageway so as to impose a hazard to motorcyclists. The guide may be viewed on the IHIE website at:


In addition, the British and European Standard (prEN124) on “gully tops and manhole tops for vehicular and pedestrian areas” has been going through revision. One of the areas being considered as part of this work is the in-service skid slip resistance of the covers. Consideration is also being given to an enhanced skid slip resistance value to improve consistency between the road surface and service covers placed in the highway.

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