New plans to allow local councils in Great Britain the freedom to cut down the number of road markings and signs, were announced by Roads Minister Robert Goodwill today, according to Motorcycle Trader.

The changes are included in a new consultation which also contains proposals for clearer road markings and new low-level signals for cyclists which will help improve safety on the roads. The proposals will reduce the number of signs that the Department for Transport will need to authorise and streamline the approval process for councils, cutting regulation.

Is this a good thing? On the one hand, clarity is great, and it’s less to tumble into if things do go pear-shaped. BUT… at a recent BikeSafe course, we were told how different councils vary their spend on road signs. In one county, you might have ‘SLOW’ written on the road, a tight bend sign, and chevrons to indicate a difficult corner. Move into the next county though, and exactly the same corner could have just one of those warnings. Using all the available information is something us bikers do very well, so I’m not sure that reducing the number of signs is necessarily a good thing.

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Of course, if the result is consistency in clearer signage, then great…

Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said; “The number of signs have soared from 2 million in 1993 to over 4.6million today. This is causing unnecessary clutter in our towns and cities.

“The proposed changes will mean greater flexibility for councils to cut the number of signs, whilst ensuring consistency and making sure our roads are even safer for cyclists and motorists.”

The changes will mean road users will have signs that are easier to understand and avoid clutter on the roads. The proposals will also look to relax parking bays and yellow-box junctions to give local councils greater flexibility in designing road layouts and markings. 

The Department for Transport also plans to introduce a range of measures to help local authorities make roads safer for cyclists and encourage more people to take to two wheels. These include; 
• Bigger cycle boxes at traffic lights to make it safer for cyclists at junctions 
• Low-level traffic light signals and filters that give cyclists a ‘head start’ on other traffic 
• Roll-out of shared crossings for pedestrians and cyclists which allow those on a bicycle to cross the road safety 
• Removing the ‘lead-in’ lanes at advance stop lines, which force cyclists to enter a cycle box alongside the kerb 

The department has worked closely with local councils, traffic authorities, sign makers and consultants to revise the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD), which offers clear guidance to local councils on road signs and makings. 

The consultation closes on 12 June 2014 and further information can be found HERE

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Tony Carter

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