The M60 turns 20 years old next year, and for those of us who have cause to frequently use it, the biggest problems it faces are arguably nothing to do with its traffic signs.
That said, I am going to write about the signs on the M60 anyway. I find them to be rather excessive on the information front, trying to direct drivers to all kinds of peripheral destinations that really would be better rationalised. However, as I always find, political pressures resulted in what we have today.
First off, let’s review the good points of the M60 signing. The ring is divided into four sectors as per the points of the compass; these are as follows:
- J1-6: Ring Road South
- J6-14: Ring Road West
- J14-23: Ring Road North
- J23-1: Ring Road East
This system is good if you want to direct people to a certain part of the ring, although some confusion can arise when you realise that this means that compass points are used as actual destinations rather than an indication of which way you are actually travelling. There are, for this reason, no signs saying “(M60 North)” etc. They always refer to “Ring Road (N & E)” or whatever. You do need to be aware of this because, for example, if you’re in Stockport you may find you actually need to follow “Ring Road (S)” to go north.
Unlike other countries, there is no indication of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ carriageways; in order to avoid confusion with the Inner Relief Road, confusingly also signed as just “Ring Road”. That said, I have seen the occasional reference to clockwise and anti-clockwise carriageways on temporary signs. This in itself causes problems because nowhere else are these terms used.
This isn’t the biggest problem though. That award has to go to the sheer amount of information overload that is put onto direction signs.
Back in 2003 before the Sharston fork junction was converted to a tiger-tail diverge, the signs were this cluttered mess. Thirteen destinations at 70 mph, it just does not work! (Picture: SABRE)
The list of forward destinations is huge. It effectively tries to cover every possible destination in the Greater Manchester region. I would personally love to rationalise it just to remove the clutter, but politics doesn’t work like that and there’d be outrage if you really tried it.
Realistically, it should just concentrate on directing you to the major motorways that are crossed and then supplementary “For x follow y” type signs where appropriate should be used. I had hoped the Smart Motorway works would address this but alas they haven’t. The signs, if anything, have got bigger.
This one is very complicated though to get right; but I should perhaps always remind people of the old adage – less is more. How would you tackle it?