Lack of signs at Bedford’s River Street Car Park leads to driver confusion

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Motorists using Bedford’s River Street Car Park have been left confused after a new road layout opened without enough signage to tell drivers which way to go.

The council say the new layout is part of a larger project to allow people to enter River Street car park from Greyfriars, so they will no longer need to drive around St Paul’s Square.

They have made this change to help to cut down on unnecessary traffic movements in our town centre.

The new roundabout at its entrance and exit, however, has an immediate left turn into a bus lane, which of course is not accessible to unauthorised vehicles.

Users of the car park say that because the old exit was a left turn only, many are still turning left out of habit, without realising it’s now illegal to do so.

There is a solitary ‘no left turn’ sign to warn motorists as they exit. But, as you can see from our video, it’s significantly obscured from the driver’s view.

Turn right signs have also been painted on the floor but the bus lane is yet to be painted red, as a further warning, to match other bus lanes in the Borough.

Local man, Roger Stokes, who uses the car park regularly, said: “I think the signage for this new bit of bus lane is totally inadequate. For a start the road surface is black, unlike the old lane and the bit in Horne Lane.

“Secondly, the vertical sign is distinctly above eye-level as you pull out of the car park so not readily visible for a car driver who will have been looking right to see any approaching traffic.

“Thirdly, the markings on the ground at the beginning of the bus lane are so near the beginning that they are liable to be obscured by the bonnet of a car whose driver has seen the road to be clear to their right and so thinks it safe to proceed.”

Roger isn’t the only one being bamboozled by the bus lane.

How the entrance/exit to River Street car park used to look. Image: Google, Streetview (May 2017)

Our reporter stood at the entrance and exit to the River Street Car Park for 10 minutes and counted 12 vehicles taking an illegal left turn.

With Bedford Borough Council issuing Fixed Penalty Notices of £60 for unauthorised use of a bus lane, that could net them up to £4,320 an hour, if that number of cars remained consistent.

A Borough Council spokesperson said” “There are “no left turn” signs at the exit of the car park, and the arrows on the floor have been changed to be “right-turn only”.

“Bus Lane” has also been painted on the road at the start of the new bus lane section. We will be carrying out a review of the new layout, and will consider if any additional signage is required.

“In this phase of the works, fines are not being issued to individuals who have driven into the new section of bus lane to the left of the River Street car park exit.”

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