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Government proposals to reduce sign clutter

The Departent of Transport have produced a Traffic Signs Policy Paper. Among the welcome objectives is to reduce the clutter of unnecessary signs and also to allow councils to make more decisions locally - without the cost and delay of getting Department of Transport approval for where to put a sign.

In the foreward, the Transport Minister Norman Baker says:

To maximise road user understanding, the current traffic sign system is built on strong prescription and regulation to ensure nationally consistent sign design and application. The review provides a framework for a new system which retains national consistency, but provides significantly more discretion and freedom for local authorities to design and deliver traffic signs that meet local needs. In doing so, the review will reduce the need for central government approval of non-standard signing, reducing costs and allowing local authorities the flexibility to deliver timely traffic management solutions.

The review recognises that our travel behaviour is changing over time as we make more informed and sustainable transport choices. The traffic sign system needs to reflect these changes and this review provides a range of proposals for improved signs and traffic signals that will promote safer cycling and help pedestrians.

On the other hand, poorly designed and placed traffic signs and their over-provision detract from the environment, and affect road safety by distracting the road user. The review sets out a clear framework for the removal of unnecessary signing, traffic signals and road markings to make our roads safer, more attractive, and easier to use.

An example of unnecessary signage is given as:

Warning signs are all too often placed where the hazard to road users does not warrant it or where the hazard is self-evident. This is the most obvious area of over-use of signing which local authorities should consider.

As well as reducing the number of signs the review also looks at whether as many need to be illuminated or as big (for instance those on cycle tracks.)

There is one bit that I don't like:

 The London Local Authorities and Transport for London (No.2) Bill is currently proceeding through the legislative process and will provide powers for local authorities in London to place traffic signs on property without the consent of the property holder, subject to proper controls and checks, to reduce the requirement for poles to support signs. The Government will give consideration to introducing these powers nationally subject to the outcome of this London legislation.

This is illiberal, Mr Baker.

Last year there were several noble citizens in Rylett Crescent and Rylett Road (that I represent in the Ravenscourt Park Ward) who agreed to have signs on their walls and fences to reduce the clutter of poles in their streets. I was very pleased they did but it would have been quite wrong to have forced them. An Englishman's home is his castle.

Tyranny comes not silently like a thief in the night but openly and in broad daylight boldly declaring its intent.


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