Smarter Cambridge Transport

Signs of a positive impact

Once a residents parking scheme has been agreed, the next stage is putting up signs and road markings to make it clear to drivers what is and is not allowed. No scheme would be effective if ambiguity resulted in successful appeals against tickets – it’s our public money that would have to be spent defending them.

But there’s also the visual impact on neighbourhood streets to be considered. Nobody wants their neighbourhood blitzed with unnecessary signs and road markings – or to see money spent on street clutter that isn’t required.

Fortunately, the Department for Transport’s (DfT’s) national policy on signage has evolved over recent years; the 2016 guidance favours limited signage, particularly in cul-de-sacs and in Conservation Areas. That’s good news for the streetscape of Cambridge, and for those responsible for public spending (the GCP is funding the introduction of parking schemes, to reduce congestion and air pollution as well as improve amenity for residents).

You’ll have guessed that there’s a ‘but’ coming.

Just because it makes sense, is economical, popular and in line with DfT advice, doesn’t mean that this ‘do minimum’ approach will be applied in Cambridge.

Currently, residents in South Newnham, who voted for a part-time residents parking scheme to protect their local shops, fear that they may end up with the standard ‘do maximum’ signage scheme. This would involve extensive road markings and 90 signs throughout the Conservation Area – 11 of them just in the tiny cul-de-sac of Marlowe Road.

Residents, local councillors and the City’s Conservation officer have all asked for the minimum signage of ‘Parking Permit Areas’ to be the approach taken in Newnham. It would cost less, be far less environmentally damaging and be in line with up-to-date DfT guidance.

With many more schemes in the pipeline, this could show how an effective scheme can be designed that has a positive impact on all our streets.

UPDATE: At the Cambridge Joint Area Committee on 24 July 2018, the Councillors passed the Traffic Regulation Order and minuted their unanimous ‘strong steer’ to the officers to implement minimum signage in the cul-de-sacs and the Croft Conservation Area. They also agreed an amendment that the officers will make decisions in consultation with the CJAC Chair and all three of the local Ward Councillors on the details of signage and road markings. We will look forward to reviewing progress on this as a potential model for other areas of the city.

This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 18 July 2018.

Lynn Hieatt

Lynn Hieatt has lived in Cambridge for over 40 years and comes to Smarter Cambridge Transport after a career in publishing at Cambridge University Press.

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