North Street revamp ‘will leave bus users out in the rain’

Posted On 21 Jul 2014 at 3:49 pm
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Improvements to North Street will leave bus passengers exposed to the elements according to environment campaigners.

An artist's impression of the North Street plans

An artist’s impression of the North Street plans

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has offered to pay to alter the layout of the busy city centre road to improve access to shops it owns from East Street to Meeting House Lane.

It argued that narrow pavements and busy bus stops were putting off shoppers, resulting in vacant shops.

The plans to widen the pavement and shifting the bus stops were approved by Brighton and Hove City Council earlier this month – despite being criticised by cycling campaigners for not doing enough for bicycles.

Now, Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) says bus users are not being considered enough either.

And the council says the scheme approved at council is now being tweaked as a result of its feedback.

BHFOE believes the shelters first proposed would be overwhelmed by the number of users.

It is also concerned that moving the eastbound bus stops towards Pavilion Gardens could cause pedestrian congestion as the pavement is quite narrow here where people also congregate for the pedestrian crossing.

Chris Todd from BHFOE said: “Installing bog-standard bus shelters which cater for only a fraction of the people at the bus stops is poor design. Ignoring the problem, hoping it will miraculously disappear, is wishful thinking.

“Our solution would be to create an attractive pavement shelter which could protect both bus passengers and shoppers when it is raining.

“This would stop bus passengers needing to stand in shop doorways for shelter while encouraging shoppers to linger in the area rather than hurry through it.

“Unless changes are made to the designs, this will represent a wasted opportunity to put North St on the map, while leaving bus users out in the rain.”

Brighton and Hove Bus managing director Martin Harris said: “Chris Todd raises valid concerns about improving facilities for bus users.

“Like Chris, we would like to see more imaginative solutions both in North Street and elsewhere such as Churchill Square.

“But in recognising that these will take time and funding to develop, we believe we should push ahead with the current plans to achieve the benefits of reduced stop start traffic in North Street in the meantime.

“This will improve the environment in North Street as well as the travelling experience of bus users.

“We would be delighted to work with FOE and others on developing more radical longer term solutions and would urge the council to include such plans in the next five year Local Transport Plan.”

A council spokesman said: “The RBS design team are aware of the views of Friends of the Earth and are currently updating designs based on this and other feedback provided during initial stages of scheme consultation.”

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