Axing of bus lane set to be made permanent

The axed bus lane on the M275, coming into Portsmouth
The axed bus lane on the M275, coming into Portsmouth
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THE removal of a city centre bus lane to ease congestion is set to be made permanent, despite ongoing fears cyclists are being put at risk.

The section of bus route running between Havisham Road and Church Street, south of the M275, was the centre of controversy last year as drivers complained it was to blame for major traffic problems.

There used to be space for cycling in the bus lane, and now there is not. So cycling provision has been taken away, and no alternatives have been provided.

Jon Spencer, of Portsmouth Cycle Forum

Tory council leader Councillor Donna Jones scrapped the lane and opened it to all traffic on the back of people’s concerns, despite fears it would lead to cyclists being put in danger.

It was a temporary move to see whether roads would be improved. Now a traffic meeting will take place on Thursday where it will be decided whether the bus lane’s removal should be made permanent – a move council officers have recommended.

Jon Spencer, who sits on the committee of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, is concerned.

While traffic bosses do not believe safety has been ‘compromised’ since the changes. Mr Spencer said: ‘We will be making a deputation on this and the issues around it. There used to be space for cycling in the bus lane, and now there is not. So cycling provision has been taken away, and no alternatives have been provided.’

Council data shows the average morning journey time along the start of the M275 and Park Road between May 2015 – when the changes were approved – and May 2016 have gone down from 7mins 41secs to 6mins 46secs.

But evening rush hour journeys have increased from seven minutes and 
eight seconds to 7mins and 23secs.

Between June 2015 and June 2016, there were three recorded accidents between Rudmore Roundabout and Church Street Roundabout, compared to 10 between May 2014 and June 2015.

Council director of transport, Alan Cufley, says: ‘The reduction in accidents is significant; whilst these are not necessarily as a direct result of the lining changes, fears that road safety could be compromised as a result of the changes have not materialised.’