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Key to the clearways

In urban areas with heavier traffic, you’ll notice that the authorities use various tools to keep everyone safe, happy and moving. Among these measures are the clearway and urban clearway. Each is slightly different, but both forbid you to stop your vehicle on certain stretches of road, and it’s important to know the difference. There are no road markings with clearways, but this doesn’t mean the rules don’t apply, so you’ll need to pay attention to the road signs. You’re not allowed to stop on a clearway for any reason, and it is denoted by a familiar, but often misunderstood, circular sign showing a red cross on a blue background. Clearway signs are positioned in pairs so you’ll get one at the beginning of a stretch of road designated a clearway, and one at the end of that stretch with the word ‘end’ added in black lettering on a white background under the main circular sign.

To identify an urban clearway, think of it as a clearway with a few more ifs and buts built in. An urban clearway is denoted by circular sign with a single red line diagonally across a blue background, set in a rectangular yellow, black and white sign usually accompanied by extra information on the particular times that the urban clearway rules apply. At the end of the zone, there will be an ‘urban clearway end’ sign to tell you that the rules are no longer in force. Typically, urban clearways are enforced on weekdays, for example between 8am and 9.30am, then again between 4.30pm and 6.30pm. During these hours of enforcement, you can’t stop or park, however, you are allowed to pick-up or drop-off passengers quickly. When the urban clearway is outside its hours of operation, you can stop or park where the normal road markings allow. However, you’re likely to find a pay and display or pay by phone parking system in force as urban clearways are usually in busy areas.