By Simon O'Hare
The government wants to give councils new powers to reduce the number of road signs and markings across the UK.
Roads Minister Robert Goodwill announced the plans on Thursday, claiming they would result in safer and less cluttered roads.
The changes form part of a consultation running until 12 June, which also proposes the introduction of new low-level traffic light signals to give cyclists a head-start over other vehicles.
It is said that if the changes come to fruition the Department of Transport will have fewer signs to authorise and it will reduce red tape by streamlining the approvals process councils have to go through.
"The number of signs have soared from 2 million in 1993 to over 4.6 million today," Mr Goodwill said.
"This is causing unnecessary clutter in our towns and cities."
As well as cutting clutter, it is suggested the signs that are left will be easier for road users to understand.
The minister added: "The proposed changes will mean greater flexibility for councils to cut the number of signs, whilst ensuring consistency and making sure our roads are even safer for cyclists and motorists."
It is also proposed that local councils will be given greater flexibility in the design of road layouts and yellow-box junctions, while there are also plans to relax parking regulations.
Plans to help cyclists
The introduction of low-level lights is one of a series of measures designed to make cycling a more attractive option for road users.
Other plans include introducing larger cycle boxes at traffic lights to improve cyclist safety; rolling out shared road crossings for pedestrians and cyclists, and getting rid of "lead-in" lanes at advance stop lines that mean cyclists have to enter a cycle box next to the kerb.
The government says it has drawn up its plans to revise the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) after speaking with local councils, traffic authorities, sign makers and consultants.
To explain and publicise the proposed changes, the Department of Transport is hosting nine events across Britain, the details of which are shown at www.theihe.org.