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Bus gates in England

Wanted to post a heads up about “bus gates” for those that are renting cars in England. I have been ticketed twice (in 4 weeks) for driving through a bus “gate”. Even though you can cut the fee in half by paying within 28 days, the car rental company adds a $35 “administrative fee” since they get notice of the ticket from the municipality and notify you by email. So, the costs add up.

We all know about bus lanes, and to avoid them. Bus gates are a new animal for me. Basically, a city/town can designate a short section of a road (otherwise drivable) as a bus gate, making that street UNDRIVABLE at most or all hours of the day. The only thing that designates this is a moderately-sized blue sign showing a bus, a taxi, and a bicycle—which are the three vehicle types that are allowed to still drive on these streets.

And the worst part is that Google Maps will NOT recognize these. A quick online search of this topic will expose a lot of people who think these things are just revenue generators for the cities/towns. It also shows that the cities/towns are trying to get the mapping platforms to incorporate the gates in their operations. Ignorance of these rules (being a tourist and relying on Google Maps) will not successfully challenge the ticket. So, BEWARE.

Posted by
938 posts

Look at signs while you're driving, rather than the screen, would be my tip.

ETA: To add to my initial rather flippant comment, it's easy for me to say that with many years driving experience in the UK.

It's part of reducing motor vehicle traffic in towns, which is happening all over Europe. You just have to be aware of it.

I'm not sure where you get your information that councils are in collusion with Google to obfuscate traffic information from their maps. Many bus gates are quite new and Google may be lagging. I'd be interested to see a link to where you saw this. Is Waze the same? I can't imagine traffic control measures being missing from any mapping app that uses any amount of user generated data at all.

The idea that they are cynical revenue generating schemes isn't one I'm fully on board with either. Ways local government implement measures to reduce pollution in populous areas aren't always perfect. I'd rather something is done rather than nothing though.

Posted by
433 posts

"being a tourist and relying on Google Maps)"

Like all traffic rules. Isn't it your responsibility to know the rules, and to follow signage?

Posted by
4308 posts

Is it a long weekend and the Webmaster is away? If not, why are we piling on a new poster for trying to be helpful?

Posted by
938 posts

If I am being fair to the OP and ignoring all the caps and breathless tone, bus gates are causing problems. Lots of people are being caught out by them. A regular contributor to this forum fell foul to one on their recent trip to the UK too.

If we are to get nerdy about it, they can be clumsily implemented. It seems to be a planning feature that many smaller cities and towns in the UK have started to use to control motor vehicles in the centre of town. They do seem to cause an inordinate amount of fines.

Like I said, it's something, better than nothing. I'd hope the intuition that I've picked up from driving would make them obvious to me from their signage and road markings but I've never encountered them in the limited amount of driving I do now. Highway Code study or Waze on your Carplay is going to combat them.

Posted by
938 posts

why are we piling on a new poster for trying to be helpful?

Alongside the helpfulness, there was a bit of nonsense that was worth a dig :) I had no idea if the poster had 0 posts or 499 to be fair. I never look and the first post in a thread doesn't show the OP's post count. In any case, as an opener on a new forum it was a bit rambunctious :)

A belated welcome to the forum dwalsdorf. Please don't take it personally me bouncing some of your points back to you.

Posted by
653 posts

Does anyone here know whether Waze does a better job identifying these features than Google Maps?

I have found driving in England to be much more confusing than driving in Ireland last year. There seem to be a lot of arcane rules, zones, gates and penalties compared to other places I've driven. (I've driven in France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy also.)

ETA: I'm watching a couple of videos showing autos trying to figure out how to negotiate a stretch of road that has these gates. I have no idea how one can do so without breaking the law. I think the only safe solution is, in some cases, to turn around and find another route.

Posted by
2 posts
  1. To be clear, I never stated this was not my responsibility. I paid the fines immediately.
  2. Please re-read my OP. I never said anything about colluding for any nefarious purposes. Oxfordshire and other munis’ own websites state they are working with the platforms to improve the problem.
  3. Zero offense taken.
Posted by
1196 posts

Bus gates are actually quite notorious for catching people out. A new one was installed in my city, Bristol, and raised £500k in fines in 3 months.

The vast majority of those caught would be local people who were unaware of the change.

I do think it’s an issue. They have added red tarmac to this one to try and make it more obvious.

Posted by
586 posts

It’s easy to do.

I’m British and I’ve been driving here for 40 years but I’ve been caught out by bus gates. I do a lot of driving into strange cities for my side hustle and while I’ll thoroughly check my journey online, I’m usually using the iPhone Maps app on my phone for the last little bit.

I was driving into a big city somewhere in the Midlands and had fully planned the route to where I was going to park, but my planned car park was full, so I had to improvise to find an alternative which meant following my app.

Yes, the bus gate was fully signposted and marked on the street but didn’t come up on Maps. And I was almost in it before I knew it (it was a left turn off a very busy main road) and suddenly it was there and to avoid it I would have had to reverse into traffic. It was frustrating and I had to pay the fine.

So it’s a warning worth making - thanks, OP.

Posted by
5386 posts

Does anyone here know whether Waze does a better job identifying these features than Google Maps?

Yes in general is the short answer.

The guide to signage of bus gates / lanes etc is on the gov.uk website here

Posted by
1010 posts

There's a relatively new bus gate on Corporation St here in Preston, so new that it's still in the trial phase where people are being written to but not fined if they go through it. It's not specifically shown on Google Maps but if you try to plan a route through it you will be guided round.

Posted by
938 posts

Please re-read my OP. I never said anything about colluding for any nefarious purposes

My apologies. On re-reading that is quite clear.

I agree with Golden Girl that it was worth mentioning. I support reducing traffic in town, but these can be a troublesome feature that you need to watch out for.

Posted by
5386 posts

Thought it worth adding that Oxford will be adding 6 traffic filters in November which will require a permit to drive through during the times they are active. These in concept will be even less familiar to most.

Posted by
1306 posts

There's a bus lane in Sheffield which still is catching people out despite there being 7 signs for it, 4 of them within 50yds of the point of no return