Re-think on 24-hour bus lane after fears of ‘gridlock’ on major route

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‘This isn’t actually a stretch of road that buses get delayed on’

Marvin Rees has agreed to take a “fresh look” at controversial plans for 24-hour bus lanes on the main A4018 in north Bristol following a long-running campaign.

The city mayor’s pledge comes despite Bristol City Council cabinet last month refreshing permission for the scheme in Passage Road between Crow Lane and Charlton Road, which also includes cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings, following previous approval in 2019.

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Conservative group leader Cllr Mark Weston, who represents the local Henbury & Brentry ward, says round-the-clock inbound and outbound bus lanes will cause “mayhem” and are not needed because no 24-hour services use the route.

Now Labour’s Mr Rees has accepted the plan might not be ideal and has offered to work with ward councillors on finding a possible alternative. Cllr Weston told a recent meeting of city council member forum: “We have made reservations regarding the proposed new bus lanes previously.

“This isn’t actually a stretch of road that buses get delayed on – feel free to ask the local bus users who on the whole agree. It is a 24-hour bus lane without 24-hour buses and only the No 1 uses that stretch of road, [which] suffers from natural pinch-points that will cause real mayhem if this plan is proceeded.”

He said that as vehicles travelling north towards Cribbs Causeway crested Brentry Hill, the move from one lane to two allowed a large amount of traffic flow, and that without this capacity, cars would back up over the slope and delay northbound buses.

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“We have seen this previously when the bus lane was first installed by the White Tree roundabout,” Cllr Weston said. “It was too long and caused massive congestion.

“We in north Bristol remember this and I can assure you this isn’t nimbyism – we understand how the traffic flows in our part of the city as we live with it all the time.”

He said that by contrast, traffic moving south towards the city centre arriving at Crow Lane roundabout on two lanes would suddenly move to one because of the bus lane, creating “entirely predictable congestion”.

Cllr Weston asked the mayor: “In light of the serious probability of causing gridlock along this stretch of road, will he look again at the length of bus lanes on A4018 and preferably abandon this part of the scheme?”

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In a written reply to the meeting on Tuesday, November 8, Mr Rees said: “I appreciate your concerns. Can I suggest we discuss them further and take a fresh look at the proposals.”

The mayor said that if the council took no action to improve public transport on the A4018 then congestion would get worse because of the massive Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood.

Cabinet’s latest decision in October means work will finally start in January, after the project was paused during the pandemic, and take 18 months. Costs for the major roadworks have gone up by over a quarter – from £3.8million to £5.1million – since the funding was first approved because of soaring inflation.

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