Saturday morning. Slightly worse for wear. Shall leave the heavyweight political points of the day to someone else. This morning we shall talk about bus lanes. This is not the standard moan about the M4 bus lane; annoying as it is to watch the 1% of traffic that qualifies for it cruise past your near-stationary car, you have to go down to two lanes at some point to get into London. No, today I shall moan about bus lanes in general, but specifically in London.
As most of you are probably aware there is a plethora of bus lanes in London, and between them, a myriad of different timings when the general driving public can use them. Boris had suggested he was going to rationalise these varying rules before his election to the High Dukedom of London, but there has been no movement in that department. The variation in timings will certainly catch unaware or unfamiliar drivers out, but that's not really my main problem with the bus lane rules.
When bus lanes are opened to traffic they are used for two things: parking or creating an extra lane. What town planners seem to have failed to grasp, is that one bus lane cannot perform both these functions at the same time. Look at a motorway with a broken down car in the inside lane. One car parked in the extra lane pushes all the traffic out of that lane. Regardless of the ability of drivers to use the third lane to get to the blockage, they still have to queue to get through the two remaining lanes; in essence, that lane has become a car park, a pavement, irrelevant.
All over London there are bus lanes opened up for use as an extra lane for 90% of their length, with sporadic parking bays of 2-3 car lengths. Pointless - the mad dash for freedom up the inside lane right up until the next parked car. If the addition of an extra lane will be fruitless (e.g. there exist other single lane bottlenecks which will eradicate its benefit) open it all for parking - the whole length, there's little enough parking available in London as it is. If the addition of an extra lane will help (e.g. it feeds into a similarly wide road, or takes another lane of traffic to a major junction), make parking in it illegal - the whole length, because one parked car screws us all.
I'm sure the Department of Transport has some great chaos theory-based calculations or something equally ingenious to test new traffic-calming (wonderful oxymoron) measures (like a miniature scaled London with ants for cars). However, for me this one's pretty simple - let the wheels on my car go round and round for once.