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5 October 2015, 07:13
Bus lane restrictions in Edinburgh are to be relaxed in a trial set to begin today.
One trial will see most all day bus lanes changed to peak period lanes in order to standardise operating hours while another will open the majority of bus lanes to motorcyclists at all times.
Changes follow a review of Edinburgh's 65km of bus lanes, 60% of which are currently peak period only, which took into account the views of a variety of organisations representing bus lane users.
Transport Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: "The different operating hours that apply to bus lanes can cause confusion. We are therefore running a trial to have 90% of bus lanes operating at peak periods only.
The purpose of this is to see if standardised operating hours will make it simpler for drivers, without impacting adversely on bus journey times or compromising the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.
"By allowing motorcyclists to use bus lanes we will also be making their journeys both safer and quicker, with little or no impact on buses. Both trials will be closely monitored throughout to assess the impact on all road users."
Since the 1990s, the Council has invested heavily in bus lanes, which improve journey reliability and save time for buses, encouraging people to travel by bus rather than car.
However, following the introduction of bus lane camera enforcement in 2012, it was found that many drivers were confused over operating hours of bus lanes in the city.
Proposals for the trials are based on a subsequent review of Edinburgh's bus lane network, which took into account the views of a variety of organisations representing bus lane users.
The review proposed allowing motorcycles into bus lanes and changing around a third of the city's bus lanes from all day to peak period operation.
Final plans were approved by members of the City of Edinburgh Council's Transport and Environment Committee last month, making Edinburgh the first city in Scotland to allow motorcycles in bus lanes.
Under the trial, all day bus lanes, which currently operate 7:30am - 6:30pm on Mondays to Fridays; and 8:30am - 6:30pm on Saturdays will be changed into peak periods bus lanes which operate: 7:30am - 9:30am and 4:00pm - 6:30pm on Mondays to Fridays.
All vehicles will still not be able to use 24 hour bus lanes and bus gates (stretches of road which only buses, taxis, cyclists and emergency vehicles can use).
These trials are expected to last at least nine months. This will allow comprehensive data to be collected to assess the actual impact of the changes on all bus lane user groups prior to making any decision on permanent changes.
Further consultation with major user groups will be undertaken as part of the assessment of the trials.
A report on the outcomes of this assessment will be presented to the Council's Transport and Environment Committee in Autumn 2016.