Items of transport infrastructure, such as traffic signs, have mounted up across our road networks and can make our surroundings unattractive and obstruct views of historic buildings and landscapes. In particular, there are now more than 77,000 traffic signs on the county’s roads and more legally and illegally placed temporary signs and advertisements. Too many signs and road markings can also reduce the effectiveness of important road safety messages by making it more difficult for road users to see important messages amongst less important ones.
To improve our surroundings we have begun a programme to review our transport assets, such as traffic signs, to decide whether they are still necessary. If they’re not necessary, they will be removed, or if they are to be kept we will check whether they can be moved or changed to reduce their impact.
We also consider all new requests for traffic signs against our Environmental Code of Practice to ensure that we design our transport improvements to reduce the impact of our signs on our surroundings.
Reducing the impact of traffic signs on our surroundings
Using our records of road signs and mapping of areas with environmental sensitivities we are currently reviewing all our traffic signs in some town centres and road corridors across the following Derbyshire towns:
- Dronfield (completed in March 2013 - 75 traffic signs and 40 posts removed)
- Matlock Bath
- Swadlincote (including the wider national forest area)
- A516 Hilton to Derby
- A52 County boundary to Derby
- A6 County boundary to Derby
- A61 Chesterfield to Alfreton
- B5470 Chapel-en-le-frith to Whaley Bridge
- A616 Gamesley to county boundary
- B6062 through Chinley and Buxworth
- A514 from Derby City boundary to Stanton by Bridge (including Swarkestone Bridge and Causeway)
- B6057 Sheffield Road, Chesterfield
- various routes in Bolsover District
- A6 Rowsley.
Removing unnecessary lighting from traffic signs
Government has reduced the requirements for certain signs to be lit at night. To further minimise the impact of signs on our surroundings we are reviewing all our lit signs and removing lighting from signs that are no longer required to be lit. Removing lighting also reduces light pollution, energy costs and carbon emissions. During 2012/13 we removed lighting from 344 signs saving 31½ tonnes of carbon emissions per year.
Good design practices
Good sign design can help minimise the impact of signs on our surroundings in the first place. Since 1997, our scheme designers have been using our Environmental Code of Practice for Highway Signs. This provides guidance to where new signs should be positioned, their height, number, size and fixing methods to help reduce their environmental impact.
Government is helping authorities to reduce the impact of signs by reviewing its policies and best practice. We have adopted the latest guidance Signing the Wayand Traffic Advisory Leaflet 01/13 Reducing Sign Clutterto help us to decide which signs can be removed or should not to be put up in the first place.
Temporary signs and advertisements
We work with local planning authorities, businesses and the voluntary sector to ensure that local needs for temporary signs and advertisements are balanced with a need to provide safe public access and to reduce the impact on our surroundings. For example, we are currently helping Bakewell Partnership and the Peak District National Park Authority to develop guidance to help traders in Bakewell consider the most appropriate advertisements.
What should a road user expect?
Some things that you are used to may be different as we reduce the number of signs across the county such as:
- fewer give way signs: on low-speed, low-use roads such as residential side roads, give way road markings may not necessarily be accompanied by give way signs
- greater distances between speed repeater signs: in 20mph, 40mph and 50 mph zones, signs reminding people of speed limits may be further apart
- better streetscapes and landscapes − although it will take time to make a significant impact at county-level, you should expect to see reduced clutter in areas that have been reviewed.