bus lane

Bedford Borough Council has driven drivers to distraction, with a new bus lane that forces them to do a two-mile round trip when they want to access a housing estate. Almost 300 people have been fined for using the bus lane since it was introduced two weeks ago.

So what's going on, and how does this council compare to the rest of the car-hating councils?


The lane

The road in question is Kingsway - a shortcut from the A6 to the Wixams estate, outside Bedford, which now has a 10-metre bus lane just after the junction - effectively stopping cars from using the road. The Metro claims that this could be the country's shortest bus lane.

Instead of using this road as a shortcut, drivers have to queue along the main road, driving two miles out of their way. Residents told the Daily Mail that the lane is used by two buses an hour at peak times.

Bedfordshire on Sunday reported that, 284 residents were so surprised by the move that they continued to use the shortcut - only to receive £50 fines in the post from cameras fitted on the road. They told the newspaper that they felt it had been a money-making scheme.

The council, however, highlight that the road has always been a bus lane, and that the only change is the installation of the camera, so that the bus-only rule is being enforced. A spokesperson told the Bedfordshire newspaper: "There is no excuse for not realising you are driving illegally in a bus lane and it is right that we will take action to keep our roads safe for the majority of road users."

Council that hates cars

Clearly the locals are unhappy. However, Bedford Borough Council has to go quite some way in order to earn the title of Britain's most car-hating council.

They are not alone in introducing traffic calming measures that do anything but calm drivers. We reported last month on North Somerset's decision to install bollards on a busy road in Weston-Super-Mare, that were only marginally wider than a car - with special wing-mirror-removal capabilities.

They are also not the only council to be raking money in from bus lanes. Some of the biggest-earning bus lanes in the UK include a Glasgow bus lane which made £700,000 in just eight months, a Plymouth lane which made £850,000 in six months and a bus lane in Haringey in North London, which sends out tickets for £2 million a year.

And these drivers are far from the only ones convinced that their council is populated by car-haters. Drivers from Oxford to Aberdeen, and Brighton to Richmond have claimed the title for their own council. @john_echeverri_ tweeted: "If you want to experience an expensive HELL. Come to ‪#brighton‬ by car. The Green Party council hates cars. £ Car park, 20 m, traffic."

But what do you think? Does your council hate drivers? Let us know in the comments.