Motorists’ fury at shocking rise in bus lane fines stories

An exclusive Bikefast investigation shows hard-working Belfast motorists are being hit with record bus lane fines stories

Nolanballs

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Hard-working motorists in Belfast are being hit with record levels of bus lane fines stories. An investigation by Bikefast into bus lane articles shows a shocking increase of 104% in news and editorial output, from the Belfast Telegraph alone, over the last four years.

Stories such as “Belfast bus lane driver fined over £4,000 has yet to pay single penny” are being published at an unprecedented rate of one every two weeks since January 2015. A staggering 51 bus lanes articles appeared in the Tele over that period, compared to just 25 over 2013 and 2014.

The disclosure will add to the growing criticism of the Belfast Telegraph, and is worrying local traders and “the motorist”.

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Local media safety expert Harry Bollards thinks there may be a flaw in the editorial system:

“It’s concerning that we haven’t seen a reduction in bus lane fines stories as time goes on. Journalists have had time to get used to the new system as it beds in, yet they still get caught writing these stories on average twice a month.

“CCTV cameras have been erected around the city, but they have yet to detect any hint of an editorial change, such as to ask – are these fined motorists daft, selfish, ignorant, reckless or plainly too dangerous to be driving a car in a busy urban environment?”

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One keen motorist from Belfast (who spoke on condition of anonymity) says the situation is driving him out of the city:

“These bus lanes stories are all over the place – they just appear out of nowhere when you least expect it. I can’t park outside my local newsagent any more without going in and seeing another bloody story about bus lanes on the front pages.”

“And they’ve made the rush hour unbearable – I’m stuck in heavy congestion watching buses and cyclists fly past, having to listen to Stephen Nolan or Frank Mitchell jumping on the bus lane bandwagon. They’re impossible to avoid.

“The weird thing is these journalists write stories to make you sympathise with people, like they’re the innocent victim of some money-grabbing scheme – and YOU could be caught out next. As a driver who’s never been fined for being in a bus lane, they sound mostly like chancers or idiots to me – nothing I can identify with.”

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A spokesperson for all the media dismissed criticism of bus lane stories saying:

“It’s very easy to avoid a bus lane fine story – if you don’t make the mistake of reading the Belfast Telegraph or turning on your radio, you have nothing to worry about.”

Many ordinary motorists are believed (although we have no evidence) to be shunning Belfast due to worries that thousands of evidently unsafe drivers are circulating around the city with no idea how to read road signs.

Terry Towelling, owner of popular Belfast haberdashery Sew’s Yer Ma, claimed bus lane stories are destroying his business:

“I think footfall has dropped and everybody tells me the same reason why – they don’t want to be seen dead driving around Belfast, in case people think they’re one of these thousands of incompetent motorists.

“The media are painting grown adults as lacking the basic ability to identify simple markings and diagrams, and adapt their driving to travel safely around city streets. They’re making it socially unacceptable to be seen behind the wheel in Belfast.”

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When asked for a comment, Councillor Billy B. Biscuits described it as:

“A shaackin sityeeyayshin soitis.”

In a later written statement, he said:

“It is becoming increasingly apparent to a lot of people that the bus lanes and the cameras on them are a money-spinner for local newspapers, rather than pointing out how much faster buses are moving people around Belfast. Like that Irish News story last week – “Belfast bus speeds up 4km per hour in two years despite dedicated lanes” – which somehow spun objective evidence of success of the bus lanes as a negative story. Here’s me ‘wha?!’

“It’s high time the local media carried out a review of its bus lane policy before law-abiding motorists, who are perfectly capable of operating a motor vehicle without attracting fines for contravening road rules, are put off shopping in Belfast by these stories.”

Sammy Wilson was not approached for comment.


2015/2016 Belfast Telegraph bus lane articles (51)


2013/2014 Belfast Telegraph bus lane articles (25)


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5 Replies to “Motorists’ fury at shocking rise in bus lane fines stories”

  1. […] You might have been impressed by his predecessors Danny Kennedy and Michelle McIlveen’s committment to active travel. You might have recently seen that fantastic greenways announcement, but maybe you’re waiting to see what effect the Belfast Telegraph’s bus lane fetish has on policy formation. […]

  2. […] Read more: Motorists’ fury at shocking rise in bus lanes fines stories […]

  3. […] Read more: Motorists’ fury at shocking rise in bus lanes fines stories […]

  4. […] Read more: Motorists’ fury at shocking rise in bus lanes fines stories […]

  5. […] is probably counter-productive given the rabid campaign the Belfast Telegraph and better media outlets are leading against bus lane enforceme…. Drivers blaming their £45-£90 fines on “the cyclists” isn’t going to help with […]

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