The good announcements just keep pouring out from Eric Pickles and the local government department. Yesterday he said Councils should look again at the rash of signs that have appeared all over our streets warning, advising and requiring motorists to perform in certain ways.
As a convinced localist, or course, all Eric can do is to suggest they think again. Let’s hope they do. Many Councils have fallen prey to the yellow line, red tarmac, bollard, aggressive kerb and sign salesmen. Our roads are in a constant state of flux, with endless niggling works to shift kerbs, erect bollards, insert refuges, add traffic lights, narrow lanes, construct artifical chicanes, remove lanes from operation, direct cycles to the front of traffic light queues, put traffic lights into all red sequences for traffic and re route traffic, turning two way into one way and one way into no way. Removing on street parking places adds to the numbers circulating looking for a spare place.
Much of this work fails to make the roads safer, but adds to congestion. It can make the roads less safe, leaving drivers lost as to the full meaning of the complex instructions, or forced into long detours to get back to where they wish to go. The road works themselves are especially good at adding to congestion, frustration and cases of bad driving as people foolishly try to make up for the time lost in the Council inspired traffic jam.
It would be good if Councils who claim to be short of money at least took a year or two off from all new schemes like these, whilst taking a good hard look at what they had done in the past. Then they might like to find money for reversing some of the more foolish schemes which have reduced road capacity without improving road safety.