A woman who was given a ticket for crossing the new bus barrier at the end of Baldwin Street had her fine canceled – because the signs warning her were not good enough.

Following a fine court arbitration, Bristol City Council painted more warnings on the road and created lanes telling drivers they are not allowed to go through the Baldwin Street junction on the side of Bristol Bridge.

Leanne Reynolds was fined and fined for driving through downtown on February 25 this year, months after council imposed restrictions on drivers of private vehicles entering the Old Town.

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Bus barriers allow the passage of buses, taxis, motorcycles, bicycles, electric scooters and people, but not private cars, vans or trucks.

The measures were put in place a year ago, in early August 2020, and were warned with a mix of semi-permanent and temporary panels, as this was a trial period.

Just last month, after 81,000 fines were imposed on all of the various bus barriers around Bristol Bridge and Baldwin Street, city council announced it would make the restrictions permanent and warnings more permanent for bus barriers had to be created.

There are four “gates” or entry points – one on either side of Bristol Bridge, another at the end of Bristol Bridge from Baldwin Street, which prohibits turning right on the bridge or left on High Street, and at the west end of Baldwin Street, where it meets the Racecourse.

Drivers can access Baldwin Street from the Queen Square area, but it is actually a cul-de-sac, and anyone approaching Bristol Bridge in a private vehicle should turn right and towards Welsh Back on Queen Charlotte Street, approximately 80 meters before the bridge. .

Leanne Reynolds didn’t make this turn and instead turned left onto High Street. She was pointed out by enforcement cameras on February 25 and fined.

It was not the first time that she had been warned or fined for violating the new bus barriers in this area since their introduction in early August last year, but it was the first time that she was pictured around the corner. .

She appealed, saying the signage warning drivers that the end of Baldwin Street was not an entrance to turn right and left was poorly signposted and that there should have been better signage on the right turn from Queen Charlotte Street.

Signage at the end of Baldwin Street for the bus door, pictured in September 2020, just after the program started

And the parking referee agreed, blaming Bristol City Council for not providing proper signage.

“This type of bus lane has the effect of blocking the route,” said the arbitration. “He doesn’t leave a general track nearby. General traffic is not permitted to pass the entry point in an easterly direction. The only way to avoid it is to have turned right onto Queen Charlotte Street about 80 yards earlier.

The arbitrator said by the time Ms Reynolds walked through the door the signs that she was not allowed to do so were not adequate.

“I am not convinced that the board has proven the adequacy of the signage of this bus lane for drivers approaching eastbound along Baldwin Street,” said the referee.

“A map-style traffic sign tells drivers straight ahead becomes ‘bus route only’ in 90 yards and tells ‘other vehicles’ to turn right. It is on the left sidewalk against the background of a billboard and a large tree, a little before the bend to the right.

“Just before the sign there is a loading dock / row of taxis, hence the significant risk that a large vehicle using the loading dock will mask it. At the junction with Queen Charlotte Street, there are no road markings or signs advising “other vehicles” to turn.

“If a driver misses Queen Charlotte Street, they’ll head for the entry point. No other emergency exit is available. The entry point has a pair of blue “bus route only” signs on large yellow signs on the left and right sidewalks. These signs also display “Bus Lane Cameras” signs, ”he added.

Signage at the end of Baldwin Street for the bus door, pictured in September 2020, just after the program started
Signage at the end of Baldwin Street for the bus door, pictured in September 2020, just after the program started

“Road markings at the point of entry are not typical,” he said.

“The ‘BUS GATE’ lettering is placed just before the road splits into two lanes, making it appear as if it is only partially in each lane.

“In my opinion, this provision is ambiguous as to the route on which the marking applies. No turning radius or other escape route is provided.

“For the reasons set out above, I am not convinced that the Council has proved that the pre-signal as well as the signage and markings at the entry point are sufficiently visible and adequate within the framework of this road layout”, he added, canceling the fine. incurred by Mrs. Reynolds.

In response to the decision, Bristol City Council said it did not think it meant that other fines paid with the same set of signs will have to be refunded – as they were to drivers who had left by M32 error when exiting the metro bus.

A council spokesperson said each appeal was dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and this was the arbitrator’s point of view in one case, and other appeals from other motorists for the same had been upheld. by different arbitrators.

But the council said it has now changed the signage, improving warnings to drivers approaching Bristol Bridge that they must turn right onto Queen Charlotte Street.

“Closing the Bristol Bridge to traffic is a key part of our goal of creating a more connected city where everyone can access jobs, leisure and other things,” a council spokesperson said.

“Creating rapid bus lines is the first phase in building a mass transit system capable of moving large numbers of people quickly and reliably on overhead and underground lines.

“The changes help improve air quality and make it easier for people to take the bus, walk and cycle in the city center.

“The program was initially implemented on a trial basis and although the signs and road markings have always followed legal guidelines, we have upgraded to larger signs and painted road markings. additional since its launch.

“An initial period of soft enforcement, during which we issued warnings rather than fines, was also designed to give motorists time to get used to the new restrictions. Penalty notices are now issued to those who ignore road signs and markings.

“Now that the changes have become permanent, the council is considering additional physical changes to help showcase the new route, such as paving the red route in dedicated bus lanes.

“It was crucial that we balanced the implementation of the experimental program with the need to protect the board’s resources by avoiding investing in more sustainable infrastructure before a decision on tenure was made. We are now working on designs, which should be finalized by October, ”she added.

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