Councillor rebuffed after calling for bus lane flexibility to beat traffic jams

Posted On 27 Oct 2021 at 3:27 pm

A councillor has been rebuffed after calling for bus lanes to be operated more flexibly as part of a smart approach to tackling congestion.

Conservative councillor Dee Simson asked about congestion at a meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council last week.

Councillor Simson said: “The council’s decision to reduce the capacity of Lewes Road has had a knock-on effect in Woodingdean, with traffic using Falmer Road as a bypass.

“There are now fears that the council’s changes at Valley Gardens will cause further congestion in the inner city and displace more cars to Falmer Road and in Woodingdean and this is causing great concern in the community.

“A local resident has previously suggested the idea of improving traffic flow in Lewes Road by making the bus lane flexible in a similar way to smart motorways, allowing the bus lane to be repurposed for cars when demand for buses is lower, for example, when the universities are out.

“Will the council consider this as a plan to reduce congestion in Lewes Road?”

Green councillor Amy Heley, who chairs the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “The Lewes Road corridor is a heavily used multi-modal corridor that is used by residents and students to access the universities, which is why the bus lane was introduced to encourage both walking and cycling.

“While it is an interesting idea to change the use during the times when the universities are out there are a number of issues to consider.

“These are

  • Changing the times of bus lane restrictions would be confusing when the times of the university change so often
  • It would encourage people to abuse the lanes and likely lead to more cars being fined due to the confusion
  • The road is also a major commuting route, with a large number of people using public transport, and increasing capacity even for a short time will encourage them to swap back to the car
  • Recent evidence of smart motorways being implemented also demonstrates some issues with the schemes, in particular, raised by drivers (as can be partially understood through, for example, RAC surveys)

“For all of these reasons I would not support any change to the bus lane restrictions.”

  1. Greens Out Reply

    Yet bus lanes in London manage to operate with flexible times. As indeed does the Edward St bus lane.

    There really is no need to instantly dismiss this rather common sense idea unless the person dismissing has no idea what actually works best for all road users…..Ah. That’ll be Amy Heley and her anti-car dogma having never even held a licence. How she is chair of a committee that includes transport is as much of a joke as her nomination for young councillor of the year.

  2. Nathan Adler Reply

    Actually not a bad idea, many area of London use this in London, (Surbiton off the top of my head), and there is never an issue. But why would a Green Party want to help anyone in a car….

  3. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Exactly, but she doesn’t do constructive ideas, especially if they come from another political party. In the same negative and defensive vein she’s also dithering about methods to deal with weeds and will be talking to other councils etc etc. She – or preferably somebody who knows more about it than she does, which wouldn’t be difficult – should have done that already. Lewes & Eastbourne seem to have come up with some ideas re weeds and have or are implementing them. Their solutions may not be perfect yet but they are getting on with it. It may be news to her, but weeds (and indeed some remnants of summer flowers) are still growing, so answers for implementation next year – if she has any effective answers, which I strongly doubt – will not do.

    How she is chair of any committee at all, or even sitting on a committee, is incomprehensible to many of us, but she has to go.

  4. Peter Challis Reply

    So “the bus lane was introduced to encourage both walking and cycling”? But the usage figures show that the cycle lanes are barely used and how many people walk from the University to the Vogue gyratory?


    Truth is that this is more about being obsessively anti-motorist rather than really caring about “active travel” and the knock on effect of causing congestion, leading to traffic diverting along longer routes and rat-runs and so increasing the emissions that confused Amy Heley says she wants to reduce.

    Same applied to the OSR where after promoting cycle lanes for those avoiding public transport due to Covid, followed by an excuse for promoting “active travel” neither of which caused many cyclists to use the route, the last desperate excuse was for it to be used by children going to/from school, but then only needing to be there for 1 hour per school day.

    I surmise that after her immature outbursts at previous ETS meetings, she is having scripts written for her by the party mandarins to ensure that she adheres to Green Party teachings and she should realise that she is only the chair of the ETS because the co-leader resigned and was not replaced, and she should be agreeing statements with the committee across all parties rather than imposing her views.

    And this for someone who was nominated as “Young Councillor of the Year” – I wonder who by?

  5. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Sometimes, you just have to bale out and admit to yourself that you’re not up to the job, which she should never have had in the first place, whatever the circumstances. It’s called being honest with yourself and recognising your limitations/failings/lack of aptitude for the position. Then, you either give up the position of your own accord or the boss removes you. There seems to be no chance of that happening here, since Heley apparently doesn’t understand that she can’t cope and is in total denial mode. Mac Cafferty, if he was even halfway competent, would never have appointed her or would at least have removed her some time ago.

    Presumably they don’t care about getting a load of Greens elected next time – there are always plenty of Green zealots in this city who will vote blindly for Greens, despite the mounting evidence of their total incompetence – and forming a minority administration (we have, after all, been all round this horrible loop before, when they were thankfully slung out by the electorate and Kitcat ran away, but they have managed to creep back in – and I use the word creep advisedly – because of the Labour shambles.

  6. David Haskell Reply

    As usual, lots of comments from people who can’t see the writing on the wall. We must act to stop climate change from harming our planet and ultimately ourselves.

    In this case, it’s really rather simple. If you don’t like congestion, get out of your car and take the bus or cycle. Lewes Road is a model of urban infrastructure. The bus lane allows public transport to run efficiently and it is also one of the few in the city that has decent cycle lanes.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      But where is the evidence that the cycle lanes in the city have lowered carbon emissions?

      Stop-start traffic diverting along longer routes or through residential rat-runs to avoid queues and delays increases carbon emissions rather than reducing them.

      If you want to reduce emissions then encourage ULEZ vehicles and EVs rather than just being paranoid about cars.

      • Robert Reply

        And where is all the electricity going to come from if everyone simply replaces their combustion engine cars to electric cars?

        There simply isn’t enough non fossil fuel electricity generation to cover the extra electricity we will need to replace gas boilers and replace petrol cars with electric cars.

        Currently electricity only makes up 20% of our total energy mix. And much of UK electricity is itself still generated by fossil fuels.

        So that means we need to scale up to 10 times non-fossil fuel electricity generation and infrastructure, if we continue to use the same amount of total energy. That is a huge undertaking that will take decades, such as building nuclear power plants, which is too long to save the planet from runaway climate change.

        Realistically, a lot of people will need to give up cars and either travel actively or use public transport, if we are to meet net zero.

        This is not anti-car, it is to keep life on this earth survivable for future generations.

        • Peter Challis Reply

          Start by using excess power available on the grid overnight – also consider Solar PV for direct home charging.

          We need planning and finding storage facilities when excess power is available for dark windless days.

          • Robert

            Those efficiencies won’t increase electricity generation x 10.

        • Peter Challis Reply

          Its going to take many years for all vehicles to become electric – petrol and diesel ULEZ vehicles will still be sold until 2035, and gas boilers will still be sold until then as well.

          To meet the 2050 target we have almost 30 years to reconfigure electricity supplies with additional options for local power generation and storage – Rolls Royce apparently have small nuclear power stations.

  7. Jeff Gillam Reply

    Not enough native Brightonians running this council, far too many ex. Students who are destroying the place with what they think are improvements but are far from it !

  8. Keith Reply

    The main question is: Why do we need 24 hour bus lanes? I see outside my window that traffic would back up right past the school. Pulling out is harder as everyone is in one lane.

    My method of travel varies. If I am going to Sainsbury’s I’ll walk. I have other options as well. But, they are my choice.

  9. Derek Amitri Reply

    If you really, really want to go in a bus lane, get a bus! It’s that simple.

  10. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    The second sentence of the article sugg ests there was congestion at a meeting. I would put the last part of the sentencv first.

  11. AlexG Reply

    We don’t need 24 hr bus lanes although as AH says timed bus lanes can be confusing and lead to more unnecessary fines. That isn’t the point though. The busy time for traffic, when allowing vehicles into bus lanes would be of benefit, is also the busy time for buses. What benefit is there in letting cars into the bus lane at off peak times when there are no queues? Don’t forget that even a half bus will have 50 passengers, if the buses become unusable and those people chose to drive instead each bus equals an additional 300 metres of queuing traffic.

    • Greens Out Reply

      Time varied bus lanes are only confusing for idiots who can’t read road signs and frankly they shouldn’t be driving anyway.

      They are NOT confusing.

      The ones heading into and out of London on the A23 (so through Croydon, Streatham Brixton etc) are quite straightforward and operate as bus lanes during peak times.

      There are already bus lane cameras on Lewes Rd so the only thing preventing this is the sheer ignorant reluctance to do it. Because they, in particular AH, are so blinkered and stupid can’t get their heads around it.

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