Council issues 5k warning notices over new Valley Gardens bus gate in first month

Posted On 26 Oct 2020 at 2:30 pm

Motorists have been sent almost 5,000 warning notices for driving through a Valley Gardens bus gate in its first month of operation – and fines are due to start being issued tomorrow.

Bus gates are short stretches of road which only buses are allowed to drive over, marked out with paint on the road – but it appears not all drivers are aware of this.

From when the cameras were turned on on 9 September until 13 October, Brighton and Hove City Council sent out 4,972 warning notices to drivers who passed through the gate in York Place, on the western carriageway at the junction with Trafalgar Street.

Drivers at the bottom of North Road are told they can turn left if they are local traffic, but this means specifically traffic taking the next left turn into Gloucester Street to access the North Laine.

Those who carry on into York Place were sent a warning notice. Car drivers travelling south were also sent a warning if they didn’t turn into Trafalgar Street.

Another 1,993 notices were sent to motorists caught on bus lane cameras at St George’s Place, Gloucester Place and two on St Peter’s Place in the same time period.

The unclear signage was raised when the scheme first went live in August, when the road markings were even more confusing.

After that, some of the markings were changed and a new sign put up – but anecdotally, it seems that many are still not clear where they are meant to be driving.

In its October newsletter, Brighton Area Buswatch, which represents bus users, said: “Last month, Buswatch News highlighted the poor signing in North Road, Marlborough Place and York Place.

“This was leading to high numbers of private cars using the west side of Valley Gardens which is supposed to be restricted to buses, taxis and access vehicles.

“Since then, some improvements have been made in North Road; the incorrect road markings have been altered and a new road sign has been erected.

“This has encouraged more cars to use the east side although compliance is still not good, especially at weekends when many visitors seem unaware of the new layout and continue to ignore ‘bus gate’ signs.

“The vague and unhelpful ‘local traffic’ description continues to cause confusion. If lots of cars go this way, Google maps and Sat Nav systems will pick up the flow and show it, giving the impression it is an acceptable route.”

  1. Mark Strong Reply

    It’s not unclear at all as long as you know your Highway Code – but many drivers who passed their test years ago don’t keep up to date (it’s the biggest selling book in the UK & possibly the least read!).

    A blue sign with a picture/word on it showing a type of transport means ONLY that type can pass the sign. The sign in the photo has a bike, bus & taxi so here they’re the only vehicles allowed past. In some places there might be an extra sign underneath with exemptions (eg access only) but if it’s not there, there’s no exceptions.

    By the way, the road marking “BUS GATE” is a nationally defined sign and the council can’t choose to change it. So UK based drivers visiting Brighton should have the same level of knowledge as local drivers.

    What is possibly an issue is advance warning to drivers letting them know that there’s a restriction ahead, so they don’t get to a point where they have to make an unexpected turn. Which is exactly why the council allowed a month’s grace where they only sent out warnings, and published plans like the one in your article.

    • bill Reply

      I agree, and it’s only unclear IF the road is not full of nose to tail traffic potentially obscuring a ‘BUS GATE’ sign painted on the road, and a couple of blue signs on lamp posts!

      Make it much, much clearer in the approach with multiple signs on both road and sign posts, could even change the colour of the tarmac to make it crystal clear then, and there is no excuse for even out-of-towners!

    • Brighton Area Buswatch Reply

      I agree with Mark regarding bus gates, people have a responsibility to know the Highway Code and there are other examples around the country. It is the lack of clarity with the ‘local Traffic’ direction signs at the bottom of North Road that I referred to in Buswatch News. These are unhelpful and vague. People unfamiliar with the current road layout maybe used to turning left here and there’s no bus gate warning so they turn left and find themselves at the Trafalgar Street junction where they have to take a quick decision to go either through the bus gate or turn left into Trafalgar Street. I’ve seen lots of cars hesitate here, often with a bus right behind which can be intimidating. It is also apparent that that more cars tend to use the west side during fine weather and at weekends suggesting these are visitors. If the left turning signs in North Road directed cars to ‘Trafalgar Street Only’ or something similar, it would be much clearer and only those who know the layout and deliberately drive through the bus gate would get a fine.

  2. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    The phrase “BUS GATE” on the road is a new one on me. I should think that it does not mean anything to many people. As the wise Mark Strong says, earlier warning signs would be an idea.

  3. Argusnot Reply

    Why not a ‘Buses Only’ sign? Once again, someone has been allowed to over complicate something that is really very simple, and road users will pay the price.

  4. Anthony Mercer Reply

    Try being a delivery driver. There are loading only bays 2 in total but you have to contend with private hire/ uber cabs sit on the loading bays. Who do the council target DELIVERY DRIVERS trying to do there jobs

  5. keith Reply

    Cyclists are permitted on the pavement with a sharing scheme and on the road. I don’t feel thry should be on the road as they don’t know they should stop for a crossing.

  6. Grae Reply

    A few days a week I deliver food to a shop on York Place, where there’s a dedicated loading bay. How do I get to that bay if I’m not allowed to drive either North or South on York Place.

    • Ian Tommins Reply

      Assuming you mean the stretch north of Trafalgar street (with shops including Hisbe), then you would follow the blue line on the map in the article:
      – Start from St Peter’s Place
      – Head down York Place and make your delivery
      – Exit via Trafalgar Street

  7. Greens out Reply

    Yet another example, not that any more are really needed, of the blithering incompetence shown by this shambolic council.

  8. Peter Challis Reply

    It would be interesting to see how the markings for “bus gates” conform to the Traffic Signs Manual – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/782724/traffic-signs-manual-chapter-03.pdf

    Several suggestions included such as “If a bus gate is placed on a road that was previously a signed route or was used by significant through traffic, consideration should be given to providing or changing directional signing to guide prohibited traffic to use the preferred alternative route”…

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