28th Oct, 2020

Controversial A38 bus and cycle lane in Northfield 'will be reviewed'

Tristan Harris 1st Oct, 2020 Updated: 1st Oct, 2020

A CONTROVERSIAL new combined bus and cycle lane on the main A38 from Northfield to Birmingham city centre is being reviewed after causing uproar among local residents.

Campaigner Gemma Cartwright MBE and Coun Julie Johnson have submitted a petition signed by more than 1,000 people calling for it to be scrapped.

On Wednesday the document was handed to Coun Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet member for Transport and Environment.

Residents are unhappy the temporary bus and cycle lane ‘appeared overnight’ with no consultation.

Many had voiced concerns on social media and to Mrs Cartwright and Coun Johnson about the lane which is operational during peak times.

Mrs Cartwright said: “I understand the need for more space for buses and cyclists but those who contacted me were rightly alarmed this was done without consultation, as well as some safety concerns.”

As well as no public engagement, they say a lack of signage makes it confusing for drivers and cyclists as to which lane they are supposed to be in and there are safety issues at junctions.

For example, if drivers are stuck behind traffic wanting to turn right into Hole Lane, just past the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, they are unable to pass other vehicles without going into the bus lane.

In other parts of the city cameras are put on bus lanes with motorists incurring fines even if they use them for a split second and it is feared this could happen here.

Also where the bus stops are, cyclists are expected to use the right hand side of the lane, putting them in the middle of the road, sandwiched between buses and cars.

Coun Johnson said: “I understand the need for safe walking and cycling space but road users’ concerns and comments need to be taken on board.”

And she added, while schemes like this were aimed at improving air quality as well as safety, the traffic building up because drivers were unable to pull left past queues meant more congestion and more pollution.

Coun Zaffar told the Standard: “I have come here to see the bus and cycle lane in operation.

“We need to encourage more people to take up cycling as a viable alternative to cars and we need more space for buses and bikes but it has to be done in a safe way.”

He added funding of around £1million was awarded by the Government to Birmingham City Council for the pop-up lanes on the condition they were set up within a certain time.

“We had eight weeks to put these experimental schemes in place.

“Because they are temporary we want people to get in touch with their views while they see the schemes operating.”

He added they could then be modified to improve them or, if they did not work, scrapped altogether and urged people to have their say on the A38 layout.

Earlier this week a cycle lane in Sutton Coldfield was scrapped over safety fears after complaints from the area’s MP and town council.

The urgent need for more cycle lanes and less cars on the road has also come about because of financial penalties Birmingham City Council could face from the Government if it failed to meet air quality targets.

People can click here to have their say on the A38 bus and cycle lane scheme.

 

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