Motorists and business owners have called on the city council to scrap a ‘chaotic’ new bus lane and fixed camera in Birmingham. The row is over a street layout adopted in Six Ways this month.
Objectors say it forces drivers to enter the bus lane to get around delivery vans or lorries parked in the other lane of Birchfield Road in Aston, potentially leading to penalty fines. They are also concerned about road rage, customers being put off from visiting shops and increased pollution from idling traffic.
Birmingham City Council said the bus lane was recently constructed by Transport for the West Midlands. It was provided as buses had previously experienced congestion on this approach, it said.
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But a change.org petition has also been launched in a bid to have the bus lane removed. The petition said the new road measure had resulted in “significant traffic congestion and chaos due to vehicles stopping at the beginning of the bus lane to merge from two lanes of traffic into one”.
Abdul Wahid, 42, uses the route every day and described the cameras as a “cash cow”. Mr Wahid, who runs a restaurant in Warwick, said: “There’s always a van, lorry or something parked there and you are pushed into the second lane. You have to go into the bus lane, there is no way around it.
“It’s a cash cow for the council and our poor drivers are paying through the nose. When I’ve used that lane, I have gone back and taken a picture so if there is a fine, I have evidence that I was pushed into the bus lane. “
Mohammed Maroof, who runs Sixways Builders Merchant and launched the petition, added: “You can see in the video, a delivery vehicle has parked in the first lane and all the vehicles behind are scared to go around due to the bus lane camera.”
In a series of concerns addressed in the petition, it stated: “Forces motorists to sit in one lane when a short stretch of road is designated a bus lane which is empty most of the time. This is a busy stretch especially at peak times and reducing the lanes will cause more travel chaos.
“Customers of the retailers in the left-hand parking bay will find it more difficult to park and use the facilities and services. Instances of road rage have become common when motorists are blocked by delivery vehicles in the second lane and they are forced to use the bus lane, therefore resulting in them receiving a penalty.
“It has become very difficult for delivery vehicles for the retailers to park to make their deliveries. There will be a decline in the number of people using the businesses on this stretch, which may cause closures and redundancies.
“All the businesses and their customers on this block are highly opposed to what the council has done. Residents and many others who use this dual carriageway are also annoyed and frustrated at the new bus lane and layout.
“The idling traffic will result in increased emissions due to increased engine idle times, polluting air quality in the surrounding area.”
The city council said all buses – more than 12 per hour – that used this section of bus lane took the third exit at the roundabout. Therefore, it said, the bus lane was “better placed on the off-side for these services.” These bus services carry around five million trips per year, and the bus lane looks to provide priority for services in this location.
The city council said: “Layby facilities have been retained for loading and parking, and vehicles should not need to block the nearside traffic lane. This inconsiderate behavior is forcing drivers to enter the bus lane, and we are looking at how to best prevent this moving forward. “
The original Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) consultation took place from June 29, 2020 to July 20, 2020. Following feedback on these proposals, the plans for Aston Six Ways were amended and re-advertised from August 4 2021 to September 1 2021. The council said both TRO consultations followed the statutory process.
A letter was sent to all frontages affected by the changes and notices placed on lamp columns in the locality. The chanrge.org petition can be found by clicking here.
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