A Review of Simplified Streetscape Schemes (Report Ref PPR292)

  • Published: TRL, prepared for Transport for London, 2006
  • Authors: A. Quimby and J. Castle
  • Date Added: 07 Feb 2013
  • Last Update: 20 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf


To undertake a review of simplified streetscape scenes and their underlying design philosophy, and to consider the applicability of their use in London. It includes a review of such schemes that have been implemented in Europe and evaluates their impact on safety, access and public attitudes.


TRL undertook a study to research into the impact of the simplification of streetscape schemes. Information was collated from:

  • Published research materials
  • Internal TRL review of unpublished research
  • Internet searches
  • A survey of known practitioners
  • A general local authority survey

Key Findings:

  • In recent years there has been an increasing interest in traffic management schemes aimed at simplifying the road environment. Some of these schemes imply remove unnecessary signs to reduce complexity and driver confusion.

  • RTI and casualty data reviewed did not provide safety case for simplified streetscapes. However, there is a lack of full analysis of existing trials.Too many signs are shown to cause cluttering and mental overload.

  • Too few signs can cause confusion and uncertainty.

  • A major improvement scheme carried out in 2000 on Kensington High Street (London) included the simplification of road markings and the removal of street clutter and unnecessary signs. Before and after studies have found that there was a 48.6 per cent annual reduction in total RTI on Kensington High Street (compared to a 37.2 per cent reduction for the borough on average). The highest reduction was seen in RTIs involving pedestrians and motorcyclists.

  • A trial in Bury St. Edmunds to reduce the visual intrusion of traffic signs found that as a result, traffic flow reduced by 13 per cent and the 85th percentile speed reduced by 2 mph to 20 mph.

  • Recent studies show that under certain conditions, for example, where there is a 30 mph speed limit, the removal of white line removal can reduce free flow driving speeds. A trial in the village of Starston in Norfolk found that the removal of central white lines reduced average speeds by 7 mph. A similar study in Wiltshire showed a 35 per cent reduction in RTIs and a 5 mph reduction in average speeds.

  • There is some concern that over-simplifying streetscapes may lead to some motorists abuse the lack of signs and instructions, for example, by speeding or ignoring priority norms.


Signs and markings, clutter, distraction, safety, RTIs


Robust government document based on primary and secondary research.