Abolish the plans to make Kingston upon Hull’s bus lanes run all day
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Before you pass judgement on this petition. Please read the following paragraph.
The present debate regarding the bus lanes frequently turns into a slanging match with two apparent ‘sides’; motorists and cyclists. This isn’t a battle between these two parties, neither of them asked for this and I’m sure neither of them wants to see the other party disadvantaged or put in harm's way. There are solutions that we can research, experiment and test that could eliminate many of the issues caused by HCC’s current proposal/dictation. But we need to look past the trivial differences and work together to get the results that will work for us and not against us. Certainly NOT in a way where we’re used as a cash-cow whilst we bicker about cyclists riding with no hands and car drivers passing too close.
I have started this petition because I believe that Hull City Council is about to bring in a scheme that will have a negative impact on the city of Hull and its citizens. The council are hastily making changes to our city and way of life to measure up with central government criteria in order to qualify for funding. I believe that this criteria is about making cyclists safe.
I am going to run through the three things that I feel are relevant in this issue.
The Council’s Motive and Plan of Action
The funding is from the emergency fund where local councils get a share of a £225m kitty to ‘create pop up and permanent cycle lanes and reallocate road space’. The aim of these measures is to encourage cycling and alleviate pressure on public transport infrastructure (comment: I’m not aware we have excessive pressure on our public transport), the Government announced on Wednesday 10 June that new laws, coming into effect from 22 June, will give local authorities in England powers to use CCTV to issue penalty charge notices to drivers who park or load illegally in mandatory cycle lanes. The measure's stated aim is to prevent those lanes from becoming blocked to cyclists, giving people the confidence to use their bike without being forced into the flow of traffic. More (comment: yet they’re apparently okay to play cat and mouse overtaking buses then being overtaken every quarter-mile)
HCC have sent some gangs out with some blue stickers to update the new bus lane times. All we have seen is that they’ve placed stickers over the old bus lane times and apparently qualified for the share of the £225m and are ready to inflate their revenue with the new powers they have on their ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras. I expect to see more revenue streams (A.K.A ANPR) cameras as a result of their cash injection. All the while, the victim in all this is us, the road users! People using the bus lane for driving, loading and as we know, turning left too early and going over the line and/or pulling over for emergency vehicles!
A Potential Real Solution
I personally think that there is no place for cyclists on the road. Cyclists are better suited to the pavement but measures must be implemented to reduce the risk to pedestrians. Even though there is a risk to pedestrians, it is a far lesser risk than that of a bus is to a cyclist. I am IOSH certified and so I’m trained to perform a risk assessment on a cyclist (with no mandatory training, no mandatory P.P.E. and no restriction on age), riding in the same lane as a bus! The probability of an accident is high and so are the consequences, meaning that the activity should be suspended until measures are implemented to make it safe(r). If I run the same risk assessment on a cyclist using the pavement, the results are cause for caution and observation with minimal implementation (to clarify, cyclists have a good all-around view and they travel much slower making the probability of an incident low and the consequences are likely to be cuts and bruises, rather than a fatality or life-changing injury). So with some protocol and possibly some segmentation, we can make this a long term and safe solution. But this costs more than stickers you see. It is what you would call a ‘proper job’. It also gives less room for fine revenue.
The irony here is that most cyclists opt to use the pavement. I don’t blame them, it is safer. Motorists would rather cyclists use the path. So the two parties are in agreement! It is just the government and local authority who make their decisions based on statistics, using whiteboards who have no idea what the real slog is like and quite frankly, don’t seem to care.
The Critical Issues Here
Now that we have put the safety options and measures to bed, let’s look at the flaws with the current scheme.
There is not enough road as it is. It takes too long to get places with the congestion which is not helped by the prehistoric traffic light system. Patients have to wait longer than necessary for carers and medication, businesses and normal every day people have to wait and pay increased premiums for services that take longer than necessary to deliver. This is how things are, currently. Now that the councillors have had their eureka moment, we can expect all this to change for the worse. And for what? So that cyclists can use something that they have shown they don’t want to use? And share the same road with the elephants of the road?
Did the councillors forget that we are desperately trying to get over a global pandemic? Our economy is in a terrible state and needs nurture. Many businesses have ceased trading and a lot of those that remain are weakened and in need of support. Not more pressure!! This could well be the final nail in the coffin for many businesses, if not the city as a whole. The chancellor sings his song on the TV and Radio about investment reviving the country from disaster and it couldn’t be any different to what we’re hearing in our home town.
As I understand, the wider picture is to reduce pollution. How can a line of motor vehicles that are sat in traffic, taking longer to complete their journey be an improvement on emissions? They will be pumping more co2 out than they were before!
Work has started on the Castle Street underpass. This is a brilliant scheme and will improve our city and its prospects. But it is a five-year scheme. So we will have a bottleneck on the main arterial route while the works are carried out; both in and out of the city. Anyone who bypasses this bottleneck will have the joy of empty bus lanes and single file traffic. It is just madness. Who will invest in Hull? Our risk profile must be through the ceiling. Empty shops and debt. That’s where we’re heading at this rate!
What This City Needs
Apart from councillors who have the citizen’s best interests at heart, of course! We need to get off the bottom rungs of the ladder. Every time there is a list published that details the worst places in the U.K. to live, or the ten most deprived cities, we are always in the top five! And it is because we let it happen. I mean we have a good moan but we never take action. I would bet my last quid that if this scheme becomes permanent then we will hit the most deprived place in the U.K. I’d even bet that we’d hit it within a year when you put the COVID, Castle Street scheme and bus lane schemes altogether in the equation!
We need common sense. The roads need opening up, not strangling! We need to trial 2+ lanes which promote car-sharing. General traffic may use the bus-lanes if they have more than one occupant. This will reduce emissions, and reduce congestion in one move. And it is not hard or expensive to implement! One day I drive me and my mate to work, the next day he drives and takes me. Not rocket science but unheard of in Hull.
Our traffic light system needs an overhaul. Inefficient systems cause delays. Even small delays to thousands of trade vehicles every day mount up become economy affecting figures. Too many of the traffic lights in Hull work against the traffic and cause unnecessary delays and have done for as long as I can remember. Simple fixes that would go a long way but are completely lost on our councillors because it doesn’t involve the words ‘speed’, ‘trap’, ‘camera’ or ‘fine’.
We need dedicated cycle lanes built into the present footpaths which are not on the road. This qualifies HCC for the funding but it is not just ticking a box, it is doing the job properly. All of our Zebra Crossings need to be converted to Toucan Crossings which are not only meant to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists (obviously someone has tested this and it’s worked!!) but are more efficient as they use cameras and sensors to detect when a party needs to cross the road and when they have finished crossing.
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