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A profusion of road signs is cluttering our countryside

Ingleborough Yorkshire Dales National Park Ingleborough Yorkshire Dales National Park Hilary Fenton/CPRE Craven

The profusion of signing and road markings is cluttering our countryside and the standardisation of signage erodes the distinctive character of our countryside.

Many road signs do continue to perform a useful purpose, and need to be retained. But doubling the number of signs does not equate to a doubling in road safety. Frequently villages are told to choose between unsafe villages or unsightly villages. CPRE believes this is as unimaginative as it is unacceptable.

To campaign against clutter is not to campaign against road safety but to argue for more sensitive measures and better design. Clutter audits show that many signs are unnecessary and by removing them, road users are more likely to notice the important signs that remain. The latest research on psychological traffic calming shows that creating attractive streetscapes and lanescapes can be more effective in changing driver behaviour than further clutter.

Our clutter challenge to local authorities

Our five point clutter challenge urges local highway authorities (typically county councils) to take out unnecessary clutter, and improve the way in which they manage traffic so that they are more in keeping with the surrounding area.

  1. Develop a clutter reduction policy in the Local Transport Plan (LTP) to protect and enhance townscape and countryside character, coupled with a bid for additional funding in the plan to help implement it.

  2. Work with urban designers, landscape professionals, interested groups and the wider public to develop a traffic management manual and design guide.

  3. Devise a local target to reduce clutter and undertake a clutter audit across the authority’s area.

  4. Undertake a clutter free pilot scheme to manage traffic in the countryside during the first two years of the life of the Local Transport Plan.

  5. Write to CPRE informing them of the authority’s commitment to the clutter challenge and issue a news release to help publicise this in the local media.

More information: CPRE consultation response on the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2015

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