Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bus Lane Retreat: Formal Objection

Following on from last night's post about why I'm opposed to the council's policy to reduce the hours of operation of bus lanes in the city centre, here is my formal objection.

Dear sir/madam,

I'm writing to object to ETRO 14/38B and ETRO14/38A regarding the scaling back of Edinburgh's bus lane network.

The council are pursuing a policy of standardisation of bus lane operation hours apparently in order to reduce driver confusion and increase the legal use of bus lanes outside of the hours of operation. I do not understand the assertion that this policy, which will standardise hours of operation for 90% of bus lanes, will achieve these effects. The hours of operation are still not standardised, ten percent of lanes will still be all day, and even if they were uniform it seems highly optimistic to imagine that drivers confused by bus lane hours of operation are likely to be affected by this policy. People know the hours of operation of bus lanes on routes they use regularly, the 'confused' most likely come from out of town, I don't think it's credible to believe that they'd hear about the partial standardisation or be any less confused after the it is implemented. The bus lanes that are currently all day don't cause any traffic problems during the day, a good look at how traffic flows can be seen on the google maps traffic tab.

This policy will make it less convenient for me to take the bus. It will make it less safe to ride my bike, less pleasant to walk to the shops, and less easy to cross the road. It is in direct contradiction to everything that this council has worked hard to do to make Edinburgh a nicer place to live. The council's policies are working, bus use is up, bike use is up, there are more people walking in our city and fewer people driving. This progress has not come easily, every small positive step has been a hard battle by campaigners and council leaders. That the council would imperil this progress with an ill thought through retreat on bus lanes mystifies me.

The only explanation that I can think of is that this is political and that the council is seeking to do something for drivers to 'balance' policies which are good for pedestrians (as if those two aims were in opposition). Of course anyone who has waited three minutes to cross the road in our city centre would entirely dispute that our city prioritises active travel over driving, but more significantly this policy doesn't actually do anything for car drivers. Even the most car mad of voters will not long remember a council policy that solves a problem that isn't there. This policy is bad politics and bad administration, it undermines all of the hard work that the council is doing to encourage active travel and it makes our city less pleasant,  I hope the council will reconsider it. 

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