February 01, 2024 2 min read

Road Signs – do we need them?

We’ve all grown up with the signs on Britain’s roads – but how often do we stop to think whether they are really necessary? Progress Magazine asks two experts with contrasting viewpoints to argue it out.

 

Barry Brakes: Professor of Traffic Studies, University of East Croydon

YES

I’ve been in a lot of debates about road signs over the years, but I wouldn’t be without them.

For instance, you’re zooming along at 60mph, you see a number inside a red circle and you know that you must slow down to 50, or possibly 40, 30 or even 20 as the case may be.

In another scenario, you see a sign showing a junction. This means that you need to be alert to traffic which may emerge and turn either left or right. Or slow down to turn. Or possibly it may even be the turning that you’re looking out for!

The sign that I like best is ‘Hidden Dip’. This doesn’t mean, as some may think, that there’s a hideaway where you can pull off the road and enjoy a refreshing swim. No! It warns you that that due to the contours of the road, traffic up ahead, both in the direction of travel and the opposing direction, may be concealed from view!

As I travel around the I like to look out for unusual road signs or those with funny meanings. I’d miss this a lot if there were no more road signs.

 

Noel Orl: Freedom Bikers MC

NO

When I’m on my bike I want to be free, not told what to do by the MAN.

Road signs come from the same place as the hated ULEZ and fifteen-minute cities; the global elite controlling what we do and where we go.

Another thing – a lot of my members have injured themselves and damaged their bikes running into the poles which hold the signs up.

Speed limit signs – what are they all about? – No one takes much notice anyway. If I’m on a fast ride I’m looking at least three miles ahead, following the lines of hedges and spotting where the villages are by the spires of churches. I KNOW how fast I need to be going, I don’t need some bureaucrat to tell me what to do with my life.

Priority to oncoming traffic – don’t make me laugh. There’s only one person in my book who gets priority– I do.

Some say it’s all about safety, protecting pedestrians and vulnerable road users. I’ve got one thing to say to pedestrians. Whether I’m on the bike or in my work van: stay out of the way when I’m around!

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