Press release

End of the road for over 9,000 traffic signs

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

As unnecessary signs are removed from our roads the Secretary of State for Transport calls for local authorities to continue the cull.

Thousands of traffic signs are being brought down across the country as part of a government drive to rid our streets of clutter.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin today (3 January 2013) urged local authorities to continue the cull. He has also unveiled a new document called ‘Reducing sign clutter’ that provides guidance to local authorities on how to remove unnecessary traffic signs as cost-effectively as possible.

In London alone 8,000 repeater signs and 4,000 poles installed on the capital’s roads in the early 1990s have been ripped out. Laid out side by side these would stretch almost 2.5 miles. In Hampshire 200 traffic signs have been taken away along a 12 mile stretch of the A32 while Somerset has also done away with a further 1,000 signs.

The Transport Secretary is encouraging other local authorities across the country to follow suit. He said:

There are too many unnecessary signs blotting the landscapes of our towns and cities. That is why I have published new guidance, to help encourage local authorities to make old, confusing and ugly signs a thing of the past.

I want to congratulate London, Hampshire and Somerset councils for leading the way and getting rid of sign clutter. They are a fantastic example and I urge other councils to think about where traffic signs are placed and whether they are needed at all.

Dana Skelley, Director of Roads at Transport for London (TfL), said:

Unnecessary street clutter can make the journeys of all road users awkward, regardless whether they are motorists, cyclists or pedestrians, and can dissuade people from visiting local areas.

By identifying and removing unnecessary poles, signs and other street furniture, we can make our road network more accessible and help transform our city environment into one that people can enjoy working, shopping and socialising in.

Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive of Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

Individual signs may be added with the best intentions but before long can sprout into a forest of clutter that degrades our countryside and distracts drivers. Rather than being hectored by health and safety signs alerting of any possible risk, people driving on rural roads should be encouraged to expect to share minor rural roads with a range of other road users.

We hope many local authorities will take heed of the Secretary of State for Transport’s call and make a spring clean of clutter one of their New Year’s resolutions.

The new traffic signs advisory document provides local authorities with various hints and tips to help get them started in removing pointless signs. It also encourages authorities to think about:

  • improving the streetscape by identifying and removing unnecessary, damaged and worn-out signs
  • helping to ensure signs are provided only where they are needed
  • minimising the environmental impact, particularly in rural settings
  • reducing costs, not just of the signs themselves but maintenance and energy costs

Read the ‘Reducing sign clutter’ traffic advisory leaflet.

Notes to editors

The signs removed in London are red repeater signs. They reinforce the meaning of the restriction imposed by the double red lines – ‘no stopping’.

Research carried out by the department on the traffic signs policy review, showed that people already have a clear understanding of the red route marking, without the need for the upright signs.

For new signs, the aim should be to make sure there is no clutter from the start. The advice challenges sign designers to use their knowledge and judgement to place traffic signs only where there is a clear need.

Signing the way’ was published in October 2011 and set out the conclusions of the traffic signs policy review.

The Department for Transport is currently revising the ‘Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions’ with the aim of giving councils more discretion in how and where they place traffic signs. We are aiming to have the new regulations in force by 2014.

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