Government announces long awaited changes to signing policy
The changes should make streets safer and road engineering cheaper. The move comes as part of the outcome of the Traffic Signs Review announced by Norman Baker MP.
The number of motor vehicles which contravened the restrictions was halved and there was an increase in the number of cyclists using the contraflow schemes compared to the prescribed solution of using the ‘no motor vehicles’ traffic sign. Signing the Way
Elsewhere in Europe this technique has been in use for many years, and in some parts its use is now mandated. Since 2008 it has been the law in France that all quiet one-way streets must be made two-way for cycling. In Paris, the number of streets permitted for two-way cycling increased from 40 kms to 240 kms in one year. All this was achieved by simply erecting an ‘except cycles’ plate with the no entry sign.
Other proposals for changes to signing and road marking include:
- An advanced green phase for cyclists - giving cyclists a head start over other traffic. This would strengthen the value of advanced stop lines.
- local authorities may trial bypasses to traffic signals - this is similar to the 'turn left on red' principle endorsed by the Mayor of London.
- Cycle use of zebras will mean local authorities can still give priority crossings for cyclists and pedestrians without needing expensive toucan crossings which reduce network capacity.
- Advanced stop lines - the 'cycle boxes' at the head of junctions - have long been problematic because of narrow, restrictive regulations on how they can be accessed. The Department now sensibly proposes to simplify their use, but there is still no easy means of enforcing them and they are routinely abused by motor vehicles.
- The announcement also announces relaxation on regulation of 20 mph zones. No longer will traffic humps have to be provided every 100 metres. Instead the regulations are much more flexible and other features can be used to demonstrate that the road in question is a 20 mph zone, such as road markings.
However, many of the changes require amendments to current regulations, which will only be finished in 2014. Until that time local authorities must still go through the time-consuming process of requesting special authorisation from the Department for Transport to use certain signs and markings.
CTC’s responded to a consultation on changes to traffic signs in 2009, arguing for many of the issues which have now been permitted.