TROs - when are they required? When are they not required?

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As Easy As Ridi...
TROs - when are they required? When are they not required?

An interesting question has come up - 

What requires a TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) and what doesn't? Is there a simple way of determining what changes to a road or street require one?

(Our example is that a speed table does require a TRO; changes to junction priority do not).

Of note is that the proposed changes to TSRGD suggest allowing the introduction of double/single yellows without a TRO.

The Ranty Highwayman

OK, I have a cup of tea now.

A useful summary can be found here which is a good starting point. I also wrote a bit about the process here, although this was mainly a road closure thing.

Traffic Regulation Orders - TROs are  called Traffic Management Orders - TMOs in London for some reason. The shorthand is to just refer to a traffic order (or just order).

The basic principle is that our road network is open to all users and unregulated unless we do something to change that position. The one exception is that the default position on speed limits is that they are 30mph in areas "lit by a system of street lighting"; a "restricted road" and the national speed limit applies elsewhere - those default positions go back in history.

To change the status quo, we need to "make" an order. There is a statutory minimum consultation process to go through (covered in my road closure post) and the relevant highway authority has to have a decision-making process.

An order is to regulate how traffic may use a road. When I say traffic, this includes pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians and when I say road, it could be a footway, cycle track, the carriageway, even individual parts of the carriageway.

Orders are made using powers granted to highway authorities under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. The split between London and the rest of the country is a little muddled, but they are essentially th same.

Think about "things" which can or need to be regulated and most need an order. Parking controls (restrictions and bays), road closures, bus lanes, mandatory cycle lanes, speed limits etc.

Bus Stop Clearways do not need an order as this requirement was removed some time ago, but you can make an order if you wish.

There is no simple way to work out what needs an order, it comes with knowledge, but think about regulate or control. Road humps don't need orders as traffic is not being regulated. Zebra crossings, pelican crossing etc don't need an order (but RTRA1984 is the legislation used).

Orders can be very flexible. For example, a road can be closed for part of a day, they can be used to implement one-way systems, ban particular turns and of course change speed limits. Depending how the order is arrange, exemptions can be provided such as "no entry" except cyclists.

The TSRGD2015 is proposing changes such as allowing cyclists to have "no entry" exemption without the need for an order and some parking restrictions not needing orders, although the jury seems out. You would still need to go through a consultation process and at least the order process maintains a record of the changes to the unrestricted status quo.

Katsdekker's picture

For local campaign groups it can be confusing. And feeling at the complete mercy of the council highway engineer is not a nice place to find yourself in.  

What about speed bumps (we were told a TO required)? Speed tables - yes TO needed. Changes in priority at a local junction (we were told no TO required)? And mandatory cycle lanes, yes TO needed, but advisory no TO required.


I've always found TROs to be a minefield and are a bit of a specialist area, I'm afraid.

A way I've used to see if an element of a scheme might need a TRO (and TRH will no doubt correct me), is that if by contravening that element the police could theoretically prosecute you (e.g. breaking speed limits, parking on yellow lines, driving in mandatory cycle lanes, not stopping at stop lines, going through red at traffic signals, etc.) then that element requires the TRO.

Of course you still need to know that you could be prosecuted for not stopping at a stop line and the like which may also be similarly specialist knowledge, but may be easier to guess at.

Katsdekker's picture

Over the last four years or so I've now come to believe that engineers aren't the specialists they make themselves out to be. I think there's a lot of hiding behind a complex rule book going on.

pete owens

That is my experience too - but actually I think they do know perfectly well what the regulations are, but are quite capable of inventing bogus rules when it suits their case. If they don't want to do something they have a much stronger argument if they claim that they can't do it due to some regulation rather than admit they simply don't want to do it. On a number of occasions I have attended traffic committee meetings objecting to TROs and pointed out "terminological inexactidudes"  in reports by officers to the committee (in my view this should be a discipliniary offence) 


There is a real problem there that lies in two parts.

Firstly: there is insufficient resourcing for, and training on, dealing with the public. The sheer amount of advice and demands received from the public will make highways and transport officers some of the most public-facing officers any council has. Those officers aren't customer service reps, they're techies. It must be incredibly frustrating for them when they have the meat of their job to get on with. There's also a general problem among council officers, which is that if they advise the questioner of the reality ("we can't do that because there's a very limited budget and the council have other policy priorities") it sounds like they're encouraging the public to campaign politically against the priorities of the leadership of the council - their own bosses - never a good idea as far as your professional career goes.

Secondly: there's a certain amount of technocratic arrogance. An uncle of mine once told me of his embarrassment at the noticable extra respect (as an ex-engineer) he was given over his neighbours at a site meeting - despite saying exactly the same things to the officers. Engineers are due respect for their professional knowledge, and it's difficult to take any notice of those egotistical campaigners that scornfully disdain their competence or motivations. Engineers' knowledge relates to how to do things, not primarily the what of should be done though - which is the proper subject for public engagement in a democratic society. Patently the former influences the latter, but the public debate can't happen openly if either technocrats seek to block debates by denying something is possible (when it is), or the public - like Pete - lose trust in the technical advice they're being given.

What I'm saying, I suppose, is that it seems rather sad that campaigners have to learn the ins and outs of process stuff such as how to issue a TRO or technicalities such as the names of different grades of asphalt. (Not that it isn't interesting anyway for those of us sufficiently geeky ;) - a big thanks for engaging and explaining to RantyH!)

The Ranty Highwayman

We (I!) do spend a lot of time telling people something cannot be done, but the reasons are mainly down to budget and politics - officers implement the policies of those elected (and they are often very wishy washy).

Engineers are enablers, but we also should question the ethics of what we are being asked to enable - that is what being a professional is about.

I do recommend that people try and learn some of the basics, you shouldn't need to, but there it is; but, certainly for those of us professionally qualified and registered, we do have a public good duty to inform which is part of the reason for my blog.

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