The changes - set out in Government document 'Signing the Way'  - should make streets safer and road engineering cheaper. The move comes as part of the outcome of the Traffic Signs Review announced by Norman Baker MP.
The Department for Transport found that following trials of ‘no entry except cyclists’ in London: “the number of motor vehicles which contravened the restrictions was halved and there was an increase in the number of cyclists using the contraflow schemes compared to the prescribed solution of using the ‘no motor vehicles’ traffic sign.”
Elsewhere in Europe this technique has been in use for many years, and in some parts its use is now mandated. Since 2008 it has been the law in France that all quiet one-way streets must be made two-way for cycling. In Paris, the number of streets permitted for two-way cycling increased from 40 kms to 240 kms in one year. All this was achieved by simply erecting an ‘except cycles’ plate with the no entry sign.
CTC has also published a briefing on contraflow cycling .
Other proposals include a trial permitting cycling over zebra crossings, as well as an advanced green light phase for cyclists and the means to bypass standard traffic signals. There is no mention of the ‘turn left on red’ idea proposed by the Mayor of London.
Cycle use of zebras will mean local authorities can still give priority crossings for cyclists and pedestrians without needing expensive, unpopular toucan crossings.
Advanced stop lines - the 'cycle boxes' at the head of junctions - have long been problematic because of narrow, restrictive regulations on how they can be accessed. The Department now sensibly proposes to simplify their use, but there is still no easy means of enforcing them and they are routinely abused by motor vehicles.
The announcement also announces relaxation on regulation of 20 mph zones. No longer will traffic humps have to be provided every 100 metres.
However, many of the changes require amendments to current regulations, which will only be finished in 2014. Until that time local authorities must still go through the time-consuming process of requesting special authorisation from the Department for Transport to use certain signs and markings.
CTC’s responded to a consultation  on changes to traffic signs in 2009, arguing for many of the issues which have now been permitted. CTC also fed into the working groups through Sustrans - one of the steering group members on the Department's review.