In the week of what could politely be described as a massive embarrassment over incorrectly configured bus lane cameras (something about which I’ve not bothered to comment as there’s absolutely no light I can shed on that particular mess) I saw a story in the Belfast Telegraph that is crying out for satirical comment…
Local businesses on the Upper Newtownards Road have been concerned about the impact of new bus lanes on their trade between 7.30 and 8am and 3.30 and 4.30pm each weekday.
Treasurer of Ballyhackamore Business Association, Doreen McKenzie was worried that it would cause chaos. “I don’t see how you’re going to get buses pulling out into the other lane,” she said, which seems to defeat the purpose, as bus lanes are supposed to ensure that buses don’t need to pull into the other lane to get round parked cars.
Local residents appeared to be unaware that the bus lanes would only be in force for part of the day, as they feared spillover of parking during the day into their streets.
Others were more welcoming. “Because the bus lanes will run for a little longer than the urban Clearway, buses will be able to go straight up the inside lane for longer – so there will be more room in the outside lane for cars to get past them,” said public transport blogger Andy Boal. “Businesses might not appreciate shoppers not being able to park outside their premises between 3.30 and 4.30, which is fair enough, although it should help the congestion in the area as local schools finish for the day, without stopping cars from stopping to collect children before 3.30pm.
“In the end, the bus lanes will be good for both bus passengers and other road users who won’t be held up as much by parked cars. If the bus lanes also discourage some through traffic, that will be even better for the traders of Ballyhackamore as their customers will find it easier to reach them and enjoy the amenities – the area has always had reasonable numbers of parking bays, and extra ones were to be added before the bus lanes were introduced.
“The best news for the local traders is that the peak times of mid-morning, early afternoon, all day Saturday, and, above all, lunchtime, will be totally unaffected.”
I decided not to quote the UKIP MLA for Strangford, who continues to campaign against bus lanes, bus lane enforcement, and against law-abiding motorists stuck in the outside lane while “persecuted motorists” bunk the queues. The absolutely astonishing part of the Tele’s story is that they do not appear to have done the most basic checks that would have revealed that the new bus lanes only apply in rush hour.