Birmingham's new bus lane cameras catch 780 offenders a day - netting council more than £1.7m in just 11 weeks

Local drivers say lanes are inadequately signed, but no sympathy from council's transport chief

by Sarah Barth   December 2, 2013  

Junction of Horton Square and Belgrave Middleway (source Google Street View)

Ten new bus lane enforcement cameras have caught almost 60,000 drivers in the first 11 weeks of use - a rate of 780 per day.

If all motorists pay the reduced rate of £30 per fine for paying on time, the city council could bring in more than £1.7m from the scheme.

According to a Freedom of information requests from the Birmingham Mail, fines issued from September 3 to November 15 peaked in the first week of October, and there was an amnesty at the start of November, under which multiple tickets issued within minutes of each other were condensed into one fine, bringing the total number down.

Only 933 appeals were made and up to November 15 only 272 cases were upheld.

The camera on Priory Queensway has issued almost a third of the tickets, with locals complaining that many of those affected will have been visiting Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Many have said that the bus lane signs are inadequate, meaning drivers are unaware they could be caught.

Ben Cheney, of Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield, told the Birmingham Mail: “I challenge [the city council’s transport chief] Councillor Ali to meet me in Steelhouse Lane and walk the route into Priory Queensway. I will show him how poor the signs are.”

But Mr Ali said: “We have people blatantly driving in bus lanes. We have big symbols on the road and on the lampposts. They are not taking notice and should expect a fine.”

Tempers have flared over bus lanes in Birmingham in recent months, with a group of cyclists described as “vigilantes” following an incident in October in which it is claimed a taxi was surrounded by riders, with one of the vehicle’s wing mirrors ripped off. The vehicle was attempting to use a bus lane from which taxis are excluded.

The cyclists were taking part in a flash ride organised via Facebook to urge Birmingham City Council to enforce rules that prevent black cabs, also known as Hackney Carriages, from being driven in some bus lanes in the city.

Campaigners blocked the junction of Belgrave Middleway and Horton Square in Birmingham so that only buses and cyclists could use the lanes designated for them. A taxi driver, Abid Hussain, attempted to drive down the bus-only lane and was blocked by campaigners.

After the stand-off that developed, Mr Hussain claimed: “They [the cyclists] were a law unto themselves. I couldn’t move anywhere because of the sheer numbers.

“These people on two wheels, who don’t even pay road tax, were acting like vigilantes.”

29 user comments

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what was it about cyclists jumping red lights....

Maybe If the drivers were travelling at legal speeds, looking where they were going, and basically concentrating on DRIVING, they might see the signs... just saying....

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [860 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 12:46

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More excuses from #bloodydrivers who don't think the law should apply to them.

Keep seeing drivers use a short bus/cycles only stretch to beat traffic queues. Actually see drivers doing it both ways dispite it being no entry at all one direction.

They all know damn well whet they are doing. Plonk a plod on the corner and they will all suddenly behave

posted by gazza_d [132 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 13:15

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Having spent ages trying to figure out where the bus lane is on the Priory Queen's Way, thanks to google street view showing the original signage (http://bit.ly/IoybwN) you can see it is totally inadequate, you know you would have thought they would have written in big letters on the road it was bus and clyse lane only, oh wait they did, well they should have had those big red no entry signs up, ah wait a minute I see them.

So what is the excuse?

Hopefully the 1.7 million will be used wisely.

posted by Wolfshade [58 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 13:37

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I suspect it is true that there will be some who were unaware of the restrictions due to missing the signs. However the majority, by far, will simply have thought they could get away with it. Now they know they can't.

If they want cyclists done for breaching traffic regulations, then they can't moan about the same happening to car drivers (and vice versa, of course)

posted by dp24 [89 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 14:07

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I find the best way to avoid fines for driving in bus lanes is to not drive in bus lanes

posted by VeloPeo [182 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 14:29

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Could we not make it compulsory for all the drivers that appeal on the grounds that the signage was poor to sit an eye test and then when they fail have their licences revoked?

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [484 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 14:57

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FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:
Could we not make it compulsory for all the drivers that appeal on the grounds that the signage was poor to sit an eye test and then when they fail have their licences revoked?

Why not just ban them?

Seriously, get caught driving your car in a bus lane, and you're not getting behind the wheel for twelve months. If you defy the court and drive anyway, you're getting twelve months custodial, plus the time that your ban still had to run.

(at the risk of sounding like a broken record) I really cannot understand why we treat delinquents so bloody leniently, when they commit their crimes behind the wheel.

Same with mobile phones. Wouldn't it be good to have sensors in cars, which detect use of a mobile phone by the occupant of the driving seat, whilst the vehicle is in gear? The driver would then have 30 days to prove that his or her use of the phone was for a genuine emergency, involving real danger to life or property. Failure to bring this proof to the attention of the police within 30 days, would incur an automatic 36 month suspension of the driving licence.

'Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling' (James E. Starrs)

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posted by cyclingDMlondon [138 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 16:50

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The council in Plymouth did the same last year, extra million in the account.

http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Drivers-furious-Plymouth-s-1m-bus-lane-f...

Makes me smile that drivers are disgusted that the cameras are mounted so high that they cannot see them and so get caught.

posted by Bagpuss [98 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 17:06

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just read that cornwall example,

It really does beggar belief that people feel they are being wrongly prosecuted. They drove in a bus lane, they got caught...

I know there is a bus lane near me, it runs from 7am till 7pm if you read the small sign, but the big sign is BUS LANE. If you hadn't spotted the small sign would you assume that it is ok to drive in it????

I guess it is the same mentality that makes hazards ok when parking on double yellow lines, etc etc.

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posted by mrmo [860 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 17:16

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Birmingham will soon be able to pay off the national debt, thumbs up for bus lanes!

antonio

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posted by antonio [899 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 17:41

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Whilst of no particular relevance to cyclists, there's a bus lane up to Five Ways from Broad Street that's always clogged with cars. If you gave Bus drivers a camera & paid them commission, that junction alone could significantly help B'ham CC pay off it's (massive) equal opportunities debt ! The National Debt ,ay take a little longer.

Timsen

posted by Timsen [28 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 19:01

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Surprise OMG!....I was under the impression that it was only cyclists that don't follow the rules of the road! Wink

TDL

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posted by tourdelound [77 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 19:44

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tourdelound wrote:
Surprise OMG!....I was under the impression that it was only cyclists that don't follow the rules of the road! Wink

Well, to be fair, large numbers of cyclists are also drivers: this is what they do when they're not on their bikes! Big Grin

posted by Ush [357 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 20:24

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Ush wrote:
tourdelound wrote:
Surprise OMG!....I was under the impression that it was only cyclists that don't follow the rules of the road! Wink

Well, to be fair, large numbers of cyclists are also drivers: this is what they do when they're not on their bikes! Big Grin

That's it, these aren't drivers, they are cyclists who are in cars. Thank god for the clarification i was starting to think drivers might break the law.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [860 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 20:47

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woah ..... cash cow!!

posted by Karbon Kev [652 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 20:54

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So big(ger) pay rises and bigger Christmas parties at Birmingham Council!

I love my bike's picture

posted by I love my bike [26 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 21:52

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So the signs are not clear enough????? Go read the highway code the paint on the floor gives a bloody good hint as to where the bus lanes are...
Opticians next port of call?

posted by Rouboy [57 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 21:57

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I must be saving drivers a fortune, point the signs out to probably 3 a day on average.
Apart from Range Rover drivers, I let them go up the bus lane Smile.

@rich22222

posted by rich22222 [83 posts]
2nd December 2013 - 22:40

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Near the children's hospital can be a pain. If there is no parking and you have to drive around again, it's a long route. The bus lane let's you just go around the block again. On local radio a woman from out of town did just that and got 3 tickets in the space of 10 minutes.

Yes driving in bus lanes is wrong, but let's think this one through. Inadequate cycle infrastructure, inadequate public transport. 71% of people in west midlands use cars to get to work. There isn't even a coherent ticketing system in place across public transport. In Hong Kong one contact-less card is good for buses, taxis, trains, trams, underground and local convince stores. I don't know what kinda nonsense system they have here, different companies with different ticketing systems.

But it's OK because we live in a 1st world country. Well guess what, Great Britain is no longer great. I refuse to believe that this is the best that can be done. Someone freeze me and wake me up in the future.

posted by ronin [57 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 0:27

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ronin wrote:

Yes driving in bus lanes is wrong, but let's think this one through. Inadequate cycle infrastructure, inadequate public transport. 71% of people in west midlands use cars to get to work.

Are there roads, yes/no? I seem to believe there are so there are plenty of facilities to cycle on. Average journey length? a few miles? so perfectly possible to cycle, maybe the issue is laziness. No point beating around the bush on this, most people choose to drive, because it is easy and they are lazy. If you want people to stop driving then it has to be harder than the alternatives. If this means driving around and around in circles for hours because you can't park, tough. There is no easy way to get people out of cars, the UK has been wedded to the idea that big car means successful that cars equal freedom.

What needs to happen is a change in mind set. That a car is a useful tool for some journeys but that other tools make more sense for other journeys.

Quote:
There isn't even a coherent ticketing system in place across public transport. In Hong Kong one contact-less card is good for buses, taxis, trains, trams, underground and local convince stores. I don't know what kinda nonsense system they have here, different companies with different ticketing systems.

Oyster Card seems to work pretty well in London.

Bus deregulation don't you just love it! Outside of London the system is a joke! Where I am the same journey is run by different companies with different rules at different times, and the tickets are not compatible across the companies.

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posted by mrmo [860 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 9:53

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ronin wrote:
If there is no parking and you have to drive around again, it's a long route. The bus lane let's you just go around the block again. On local radio a woman from out of town did just that and got 3 tickets in the space of 10 minutes.

If she failed to see the signs and markings on 3 separate occasions in the space of 10 minutes then she shouldn't be on the road.

posted by dp24 [89 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 10:55

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A true measure of the effectiveness of the cameras will be if the rate of fines now starts to drop steeply. If they don't, well, there's no helping the stupidity of people and the council will have a new revenue stream...

posted by Al__S [419 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 10:57

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The law is the law. Adhere to it.

posted by Philip Whiteman [4 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 10:58

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There's a sign apparently saying left turn for buses and cyclists only and a sign saying turn left all other traffic. If that's not confusing what is?

Mixte Rider

posted by adriank999 [57 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 11:06

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And the final sentence: the good old "cyclists don't pay road tax" chestnut?

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

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posted by jmaccelari [91 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 12:04

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ronin wrote:
There isn't even a coherent ticketing system in place across public transport. In Hong Kong one contact-less card is good for buses, taxis, trains, trams, underground and local convince stores. I don't know what kinda nonsense system they have here, different companies with different ticketing systems.

The SPT in the West of Scotland operate a zone card which covers Glasgow and the Strathclyde Region. Most of the bus companies are part of it, as is Scotrail and the Underground. I don't know about the rest of the UK apart from the Oyster Card. Maybe councils and transport companies just needed to get their s*** together and sort something out.

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posted by giff77 [960 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 12:23

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ronin wrote:

If there is no parking and you have to drive around again, it's a long route. The bus lane let's you just go around the block again. On local radio a woman from out of town did just that and got 3 tickets in the space of 10 minutes.

No better (worse in fact) than cyclists' excuses for RLJing.

posted by eurotrash [69 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 15:26

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Think how much councils and police forces could make with cameras on every ASL, traffic light, bike and bus lane. Maybe repeat offenders could mitigate the costs by taking bikeabilty courses.

posted by Initialised [62 posts]
3rd December 2013 - 23:35

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posted by JackWitson [6 posts]
21st February 2014 - 10:06

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