Option: Restrict traffic and parking to make roads safer around schools
A number of legal measures may be appropriate where local communities have concerns about the level and nature of traffic around schools. These may form part of a wider scheme to develop school travel plans and safer routes to schools through education, walking and cycling schemes and in-school facilities.
A local authority has a duty to promote sustainable modes of travel to schooland to draw up an annual strategy- a ‘sustainable modes of travel strategy’ (S.76 Education and Inspections Act 2006- adding S.508A to the Education Act 1996).
School Travel Plans (STPs) are a key mechanism for implementing the strategy and are promoted as a means of reviewing and improving the school environment and routes to schools. They can incorporate consultation with the local authority to implement traffic measures.
There is potential to reduce congestion, traffic speeds, and improve the safety of the school environment through local traffic management measures implemented by the local traffic authority.
Local traffic authorities (LTAs); These will be the county council, unitary authority, metropolitan district council or London borough in an area. Strategic roads are governed by the highways authority, regional governments and the Greater London Assembly and Transport for London in London.
The local traffic authority has control over most local roads and is empowered to restrict, regulate or prohibit the use of a road by traffic (including non-motorised traffic) to improve safety and the environment. This includes re-design of roads, change of speed limit and insertion of infrastructure like speed humps.
Specific options to improve the safety and attraction of roads for walking and cycling include:
Keep Clear markings at school entrances
Controlled parking zones- reduce traffic and parked car levels
Loading and waiting restrictions
Pavement parking controls
20 mph speed limits
KEEP CLEAR markings
The KEEP CLEAR marking (with yellow zig-zag) is prescribed for use outside schools nurseries or playgroups and can prevent traffic from stopping near sensitive crossings and entrances.
The overall length of the marking (using the word “SCHOOL”) must not be less than 25.56m nor more than 43.56 m.
Where two lengths are necessary, allowing at least 7m between the two markings would provide aplace for setting down children on their way to school. However, this might also encourage furthervehicles to stop behind the first, and undermine compliance.
The KEEP CLEAR marking is legally enforceable only when used in conjunction with an upright sign and backed by a traffic regulation order. However, without regular enforcement action, the mandatory version is unlikely to be any better respected than the advisory marking.
Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs)
A Controlled Parking Zone may prohibit any on-street parking in an area by drivers without a permit at any time or for certain periods. Charges can be set for permits according to the level of emissions produced by the car but these should be reasonable and proportionate (and not revenue raising). For more information see promoting car-free developments.
Loading and Waiting restrictions
There are several road marking and traffic sign combinations that prevent traffic from stopping waiting or loading in congested and unsafe locations.
Waiting: Double Yellow lines; waiting is prohibited at any time during at least 4 consecutive months (with explanatory sign if less than 12months)
Single yellow; prohibition for some lesser time (of day week or year) with explanatory sign
Loading: Double transverse mark on the kerb at 2-4 m intervals; no loading at any time during at least 4 consecutive months (with explanatory sign if less than 12months)
Single transverse mark; no loading for some lesser time with explanatory sign
Pavement Parking Restrictions
This can prove a problem for pedestrians by removing pavement room and for cyclists by cutting road space on narrow roads. Pavement parking is prohibited in Greater London under the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974, however, outside London local authorities can only regulate pavement parking through specific traffic regulation orders. All local authorities in England have been given the authorisation to use the signs necessary to put a ban in place.
20mph Speed Limits
A local authority has the power to set 20 mph speed limits on residential urban roads and roads with high numbers of vulnerable users. This may be combined with other traffic calming measures to form a’20 mph zone' or implemented as a signed limit only. For more information see 20 mph.
Traffic Regulation Orders:
All the previous measures are implemented through a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The procedure for development of an order is set out below:
Traffic Regulation Orders- Implementing local traffic management
Local traffic authorities (county councils, Unitary Authorities, Metropolitan district councils and London boroughs) have the power to implement traffic management on their roads using Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. These orders may:
regulate, restrict or prohibit the use of a road or any part of its width
operate at all times or only during specified periods
exempt certain classes of traffic (e.g. cyclists) from any restrictions
Different types of TROs
Permanent TROs that remain in force until revoked
Experimental orders, which may last up to 18 months
Temporary orders; e.g. for road works or for litter clearance
Justification of TROs
It is the duty of every local authority to exercise the functions in the act to secure ‘expeditious, convenient and safe movement of vehicular and other traffic’ (including pedestrians) and the provision of suitable and adequate parking facilities on and off the Highway. They can also be used to improve air quality (under the Environment Act 1995) and preserve amenity.
Procedure for Permanent TROs
A TRO can take up to a year to implement because there is a statutory process to follow:
Consultation; The LTA must involve local town, parish or district councils and the emergency services, haulage associations and any other appropriate organisations
Publication; Official notices in the local press and ‘on-street’ notices
Objections; Any person is able to object in writing within 21 days
Public Inquiry; May be held if an objection is not frivolous or irrelevant, or if there are significant loading restrictions proposed.
Making the Order; Objections must be considered and reviewed by an inspector, the order is made and published locally, and any traffic signs will be placed and maintained.
There are no publication requirements- or rights of objection- for an experimental order, objections are considered when making it a permanent order.
Traffic signs and markings
There are precise directions as to the placing and nature of traffic signs and markings- set out in Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (S.I. 2002/3113). This prescribes the lawfulness of certain signs and markings if correctly implemented. Contravention of a TRO is an offence, as is failure to comply with a correct and lawful traffic sign- S.36 Road Traffic Act 1988.