One Way Street

A one way street only allows vehicles to move in one direction down the road. ‘No-entry’ signs are used to prevent vehicles travelling the wrong way along the road, and sometimes road junctions are redesigned to make it difficult to turn against the flow of traffic. For traffic travelling in the correct direction, arrow signs are used to show it is a one way street.

One way street with cycle contraflow road markings


  • Likely to increase vehicle speeds
  • Motor vehicles and emergency vehicles may need to travel greater distance to get to their destination


For some roads, they will be too important to the City’s transport network to allow them to become a one way street

One way street no entry signs
Cost:   £10,000 - £15,000

This scheme requires a Traffic Regulation Order


  • Can prevent vehicles using the road as a short cut / rat run
  • Can create more road space for car and cycle parking
  • Can help traffic to move more freely


If a road is currently a narrow two way street where motor vehicles need to slow down to pass each other, changing the road to a one way street will increase vehicle speeds. Vehicle drivers may also be tempted to drive faster because they do not expect any oncoming vehicles.

If motor vehicles speeds increase, this will reduce how safe the road is.

One way street entry sign with cycle contraflow


  • Only usually used on local residential roads, where an alternative major route is available

There's also some general restrictions to note for all schemes

One Way Exceptions

Many one way streets in Bristol have an exception for bicycles, this is also known as a cycle contraflow. This keeps the city accessible to cyclists, who may find journeys longer and more difficult with an increasing number of one way streets.

Advanced information

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There’s only one poor quality piece of research about one way streets, which suggested they are no more or less safe than a two way street. The study was based on a stratified sample of national data, rather than a high quality before / after study methodology with controls. This study has limited use in establishing if any given street would be any more or less safe if it is one way or two way.


Summersgill, I. & Layfield, R. (1996) Non-junction accidents on urban single-carriageway roads (TRL183). Transport Research Laboratory. Crowthorne, UK.

Also Consider:
Close Road to Through Traffic
Road Closure
Closing the road to through traffic usually refers to building a raised curb area across the road, with an obstruction such as bollards or a flower bed.
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Road Narrowing
Road narrowing simply reduces the width of the road. This could be achieved in a number of ways, however the technique normally used in Bristol involves extending the curb at a junction entrance with a bollard on each side.
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Single lane chicanes require one direction of traffic to give way to oncoming vehicles. The chicane normally consists of a raised curb and bollard in one half of the road, with a sign to explain the traffic priority.
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Speed Table
Speed tables are a raised section of road, with a ramp on both sides. The ramps are painted with white arrows to make them more obvious to vehicle drivers.
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Speed Humps
Speed humps have a short rounded top which is typically 75mm high. The ramps either side are painted with white arrows to make them more obvious to vehicle drivers.
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Vehicle-activated Signs (VAS)
VASs are an electronic sign which only become visible when approaching vehicles are exceeding a certain speed.
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Pedestrian Refuge Island
A refuge island is a raised section of pavement between two lanes of traffic moving in opposite directions. The Islands normally have yellow and white plastic bollards with a blue arrow to remind drivers to keep left.
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DIY Streets
DIY Streets
DIY Streets is a concept developed by Sustrans which encourages communities to generate ideas for the improvement of their street. The concept aims to make the street less car dominated, and more community focussed.
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Community Speed Watch
Community Speed Watch
Community Speed Watch is a scheme to allow volunteers to monitor the speed of passing vehicles using a hand-held speed detection device.
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Speed Cameras
Speed cameras photograph vehicles which are travelling over a certain speed. This is usually around 10% over the speed limit. Speed cameras use a radar device to detect the speed of passing vehicles.
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Speed Cushions
A speed cushion is a short, raised, rounded device, normally in the centre of a road lane. Speed cushions are designed to be slightly wider than a car, so car drivers need to slow down and drive over the centre of the speed cushion to reduce discomfort.
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