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Calls to change bus lane hours on major road to slash 30-minute queues

PUBLISHED: 08:44 17 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:36 17 October 2020

Gary Blundell has launched a petition to open the bus lane on Dereham Road in Norwich to traffic outside of peak hours. Picture: Brittany Woodman/Ruth Lawes

Gary Blundell has launched a petition to open the bus lane on Dereham Road in Norwich to traffic outside of peak hours. Picture: Brittany Woodman/Ruth Lawes

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Campaigners say revising the hours of a bus lane on a major city road could put a stop to standstill traffic queues which last up to 30 minutes.

Campaigners have said not opening the bus lane on Dereham Road to other traffic causes congestion. Picture: Ruth LawesCampaigners have said not opening the bus lane on Dereham Road to other traffic causes congestion. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Gary Blundell, Costessey town councillor, has launched a petition to change the hours of the bus lane on Dereham Road in Norwich near the Larkman estate.

It currently functions as a bus, cycle and taxi lane 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but people living nearby want the lane to open to all traffic outside of peak hours.

They say keeping the bus lane closed to other traffic contributes to “massive” queues.

For Gemma Whiddett, a restaurant manager, one of the “worst things” about living in Costessey is the traffic, which she believes would be alleviated by amending the bus lane hours.

The 37-year-old said: “Getting into the city centre can take a while, all while the bus lane is used by four buses an hour. We sit queued up, sometimes up to the The Clocktower pub roundabout, from the Cherry Tree pub traffic lights, while the bus lane is empty.

“I strongly feel that if the bus lane was timed, so only used during peak times, like the one on Wroxham Road, it would reduce the traffic sitting on Dereham Road.”

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Mr Blundell, who started the petition, which has been signed more than 250 times, said opening up the bus lane would improve the environment.

He said: “There are often queues backing up which means there are idle engines, and therefore lots of emissions. It would be a benefit, not only to journey time, but also to the environment, if traffic was kept moving.”

However, Susan Powell, a kitchen assistant, believes the hours of the bus lane should not change over safety concerns after previously supporting the campaign.

The 42-year-old said: “The bus lane isn’t exactly buzzing with taxis and buses but when I thought about it more I think the opening of the bus lane to other vehicles could potentially be quite hazardous as if drivers aren’t using the mirrors to either go into or out of the bus lane we will be seeing a lot more accidents.

“I’m now against the opening of the bus lane for safety reasons.”

Councillor Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport and chair of the transforming cities joint committee, said: “Road space along Dereham Road has been allocated specifically to buses, taxis and those wanting to cycle along this bus route into Norwich.

“We will consider all petitions in line with council policy but this proposal goes against our wider transport strategy to reduce pollution and congestion, improve the efficiency of public transport connections and encourage more travel by sustainable means.

“This is a key feature of our current programme of proposed improvements through the Transforming Cities Fund, which includes a number of projects along the Dereham Road route to complement the existing bus lane and secure an additional investment of £18m from First Eastern Counties in new and improved buses.”


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