Sunday, 23 July 2017

Zone Control

I wrote a blog post on traffic orders quite a while back, but I though it worth returning to the subject to talk about the use of pedestrian and cycle zones which are normally a town centre thing, but it needn't be so.

I'm no fan of the Organised Taxi Lobby™, but some people rely on them and even I must accept that lorries are going to be with us for a while yet, so I though it worth showing how we can use the tools we already have to enable selected access to specific areas;

Actually, I think most of you will have seen some of this in action in pedestrian zones which (at their purest) allow walking and cycling at all times with time-based access for deliveries;

The sign above means that the area beyond is a pedestrian zone which operates all of the time into which no motor vehicles (the circular sign) are permitted unless they are loading between 5am to 10am, Sunday to Friday and 5am to 9am on Sunday. The yellow "at any time" means there is no waiting - in other words, if you're in there, it's just for loading; the sign replaces double yellow lines (with repeaters in the zone). The road is also one-way for motor traffic and two-way for cycling (the separate blue sign at the top).

The circular sign in left blank (i.e. no picture of the car and motorcycle) then it would mean "no vehicles", including cycles. It's daft, but sadly prevalent in the UK where deliveries are allowed (at certain times), but cycling is banned.

The properly up to date sign is a "pedestrian and cycle zone";

There is lots of flexibility with this sign. If the time period in the top panel is omitted (like in the photo above) then the zone operates at all times (we can select the times it operates too. The middle panel provides various exceptions which can be in any combination;

  • the legend “buses” or “local buses”
  • the legend “taxis”
  • the legend “for access”, “for loading”, or “for loading by” and the goods vehicle symbol
  • the legend “permit holders”, “permit holder”, and, if appropriate, a permit identifier or identifiers
  • the disabled badge holder symbol
The middle panel can include a time period (as with the photo above) and the time period in the lower panel can also be varied (more like a single yellow line). The lower panel can also be omitted, plus the middle panel can be omitted when the lower panel is omitted. Let's look at some examples;

The sign above tells us that the pedestrian and cycle zone operates all the time, but anyone can load (not just lorries in this case) and taxis can be driven through. Let's have another;

In this case, the pedestrian and cycle zone operates 7-days a week, but between 8am and 6pm. Outside of these hours, anyone can drive through. The only people allowed to enter the zone during the hours of operation are those with the correct permit. OK, one more;

This would be a part time pedestrian and cycle zone which operates on weekdays for an hour in the morning and afternoon. Blue badge holders and permit holders are excepted. This could very easily be a scheme around a school, although because the times will always be the same, there will be a theoretic disadvantage to those wishing to bring a vehicle into the area during holidays - they couldn't (we can't use "term time" on a traffic sign because dates always change).

Having stated this, Edinburgh have manged to get round the term time issue by have the zone operational when lights flash;

This will have "non prescribed traffic signs" approval (under Scottish rules) and forms part of a bigger scheme of "school streets" in the city which seeks to prevent parents driving their children to the school gate.

Zones should also have an end (so people know they have left);

I think this is a great tool and more should be made of it our of town centres as Edinburgh has done. It's not going to work everywhere and it needs enforcement to be effective (although we can use cameras), but in the quest for lower levels of traffic in those places where people live, work and play, we really could push out those who we don't want to drive through an area without to badly affecting those who might need to get in.


  1. Hatfield has the curious situation that bicycles are banned but not delivery trucks, so we have armoured bank trucks mixing with pedestrians but bicycles are banned. It is a ban widely flouted as not enough police or wardens to enforce it. Sadly the result of one yob on a bike (with many previous convictions) hitting an old lady and creating a Daily Mail headline.

  2. Dear Ranty,
    Can you clarify a couple of points for me please. As the signs would be double sided on a two way road, is that to say as i would understand it a car inside the zone that entered prior to the time cannot leave?.

    I am assumed this would be a moving traffic violation, but looking at some of the order the pescription seems to state "any person who causes any vehicle to enter into or proceed in any road or length of road in accordance with any restriction or requirement indicated"? or does the bit proceed in any road cover them leaving too.

    Thanks for your help on this i am trying to ensure a school street can be enforced both ways.

    1. It's a really good question and I'm not 100% sure, but I would say that the prohibition is on driving within the zone during operation and so someone who was parked before it started and then drove out would be "proceeding". The point is to have no moving vehicles when kids are walking, so it would make sense. A driver entering and seeing the signs should take note in the same way as they should with parking and speed limit signs.

  3. Does anyone know of what offence has been committed if a prohibited vehicle enters a Pedestrian and Cycle Zone, specifically a school street? I'm aware of a situation in England outside of London where both the council and police say they have no way to enforce contraventions, and no-one appears to know the answer. I'm aware there may not be civil parking enforcement code to enforce this but if anyone knows what the police do when issuing a fixed penalty notice I'd be interested in finding out. Thanks

    1. It will probably be a simple contravening a traffic sign, but what happens next where they police enforce it I'm afraid I don't know!

  4. To understand you right, the first picture which says loading permitted between certain periods, the loading refers to any car not just lorries?

    1. Yes, that would be loading by anyone using any class of vehicle, but there must be signs that loading is genuinely taking place!