What Is An Urban Clearway? And why is it important

When you’re out on the road in the UK, you’re going to come across a whole host of signs and rules. Anyone who has completed a driving theory test should know what each of these signs means, but let’s face it, there are so many that it’s more than possible for things to slip from your memory. 

One sign you’ll often see around the UK is the urban clearway sign. This isn’t a standalone sign and is often accompanied by other pieces of information, specifically times and days. But what is an urban clearway and what does it mean for you as a driver?

The urban clearway sign is used to tell drivers that they must not stop on that particular stretch of road. There may be small exceptions to this rule but by and large, you cannot stop during busy periods; the times of these periods will be displayed on the sign. 

If you’ve found yourself staring blankly at an urban clearway sign and wondering what it’s telling you, this guide will give you all of the information you need. 

What Does The Urban Clearway Sign Look Like And What Does It Tell You?

The urban clearway sign is displayed, in its most simple form, as a circular blue sign with a red border and a red diagonal line running through the centre. This symbol is typically displayed on a yellow background with the words URBAN CLEARWAY printed clearly in black. 

The sign will also contain other information regarding the times that the sign applies. Sometimes, this will be AM times and PM times. 

Throughout the duration of the urban clearway, there will be repeated signs letting you know that the rules continue. However, once you reach the end of the zone, there will be an urban clearway END sign so you know that the rules no longer apply. 

But what does the urban clearway sign mean?

Simply put, an urban clearway is a stretch of road on which you are not permitted to stop during certain hours of the day. The signs are generally placed in urban areas, as the name suggests, that tend to get busy at specific points throughout the day, for example, during rush hour. 

The times displayed on the sign will tell you when the rules are in effect but for the rest of the day, they do not apply. During these times, road users are not permitted to park or stop for any duration of time within the urban clearway area. 

By sticking to these rules, you are helping to reduce congestion in an already busy area and helping to keep traffic flowing. 

Will There Be Any Road Markings On An Urban Clearway?

Urban clearways are usually only enforced through the use of signs. You won’t find any road markings that provide you with additional information.

Are There Times That I Can Stop In An Urban Clearway?

As we have mentioned, the rules on the urban clearway sign only apply during the hours printed on the sign. Outside of these times, you are permitted to stop provided that you are not breaking any other rules of the road. 

That said, there are some minor exceptions to the urban clearway rules even during the hours that the rules apply. This includes setting down and picking up passengers as long as you are not parked up for more than the few seconds it takes to do this. 

Paying For Parking On A Urban Clearway

Outside the hours of operation for an urban clearway, you may be able to park along the route. However, since these are usually prime spots for parking, there is often a pay and display rule in force. 

When parking in these areas during the permitted hours, be sure to look at what parking fees you need to pay. Failing to do so could result in a more hefty non-compliance fee.

Is An Urban Clearway The Same As A Red Route?

You may have heard of a red route if you live in or frequent certain parts of the United Kingdom. These systems are typically in operation in busier urban areas such as London, parts of the West Midlands and areas such as Leeds and Edinburgh. They typically run in areas where there are major bus routes. 

A red route does have similar rules to an urban clearway but they are not the same thing. In fact, if you find yourself faced with a red route then you should be aware that the rules are much stricter. 

In these red route areas, you are not allowed to park or stop during the hours of operation. Unlike an urban clearway, you are not even permitted to stop to drop off or pick up passengers. That said, if you are a blue badge holder, there is an exception and you will be able to stop for drop offs and pick ups but you are still not permitted to park within the red route. Note that taxis are allowed to pick up and drop off also.

If you do stop in a red route then there is an associated penalty which is typically a fine that could be anywhere between £100 and £130. There are several ways that you may be caught stopping in a red route including through CCTV, traffic wardens and parking attendants. 

How Do I Know When I’m On A Red Route? 

If you are on a red route then you will see a sign that looks a little like the urban clearway sign. However, instead of having just one red line through the centre of the blue circle, there will be two crossed red lines. Where the urban clearway sign sits on a yellow background, the red route sign sits on a white background. In both cases, the times of operation are clearly marked. 

With urban clearways, there are no accompanying road markings. However, when you are on a red route, you’ll notice that there are double red lines on the side of the road. In some cases, this will temporarily change to a single red line which means that you are permitted to stop within specifically designated times. These times will be signposted but you are still not permitted to park during these hours. 

There may also be some points during the red route where the red lines are broken or are replaced with white lines. These are areas used for disabled parking and loading and unloading. Again, these areas will be clearly marked with appropriate signage so be sure to check these. 


There are a lot of things that could land you in trouble when using the roads in the UK. One thing that a lot of people find themselves in hot water over is failing to comply with road signs. But there are so many to remember. 

If you’re driving through an urban area then you may come across an urban clearway sign. These signs tell you that you are not allowed to stop during certain hours of the day. The hours of operation will be displayed on the sign and further reminder signs will be displayed along the stretch of road. 

In some areas, there is a stricter system in place known as a red route. The rules are pretty similar to an urban clearway but have fewer exceptions of when and where you can stop.

Driveway Expert