Five need-to-knows about the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund

10th May 2022

The fund supports better and safer roads, through improved design, engineering and aesthetics. By Glenn Lyons, Mott McDonald professor of future mobility.

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The founder of the Centre for Transport & Society at UWE and member of the CIHT’s Route to Net Zero Advisory Group serves as a trustee to the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund that honours the engineer who organised asphalt trials and led a campaign to seal the UK’s roads in the early 20th century. 


What challenges surrounding active travel need to be overcome?

If anything, there are more opportunities than challenges relating to active travel. At the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, we're well aware of the challenge of climate change – and the need to continuously evolve the way in which roads are used and the purpose that they fulfil in supporting society.

The opportunities are to maintain and accelerate the momentum surrounding the role of active travel. We need to support the sort of lives people want to live, in a way that's commensurate with treading more lightly, environmentally speaking.


What are the goals of the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund?

Awards made by the fund relate to either longer-term investment in the form of supporting educational development, or grants for physical improvements to the road environment or for research and engagement.


What should applicants know before applying to the Rees Jeffrey’s Road Fund?

Applicants need to understand what the fund is about and should formulate an initial inquiry, stating what the essence of the idea is. We look for well-grounded ideas and like to see something that is novel.

We also look at issues around deliverability, in terms of the capabilities of the individual or the team – as sometimes, projects are ambitious but rely upon third parties, or approvals, which might be beyond their reach. As trustees, we need to weigh up the outcomes that might be achieved for the public good, and their likely effectiveness.


How does the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund make a difference?

The recently concluded “150 Competition”, marking 150 years since the birth of our founder, brought forward so many new ideas – nearly 150 in fact! Reed Mobility and Eloy were joint winners. Reed Mobility’s proposal was for connected autonomous vehicles that can appropriately address the diversity of road users. Eloy focused on connected vehicles, but specifically on country lanes where roads are typically narrower and the line of sight makes it more difficult to spot oncoming road users. The project will examine how connected vehicles are able to detect other users such as vehicles or cyclists.

While £150,000 has been made available to the winners, other shortlisted finalists received funding to develop their ideas in the competition. The ideas strongly reflected a need and desire to improve roads for the future for everyone.


Are all road users welcome to apply for funding?

Our founder, William Rees Jeffreys, was also a keen cyclist. So, in a sense, part of the DNA of the fund is to recognise road users in the broadest sense – not simply car users


See the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund website for details of its 2022 grants and bursaries for the study of engineering, management and planning in relation to roads, highways or transport.

Photo credit: Rees Jeffreys Road Fund

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