Bus gate signs 'too cluttered' for the brain to process


Essex County Council is refusing to review its operation of a bus gate in Chelmsford despite losing an appeal against being fined by a motorist and pressure from local MP Vicky Ford, who has herself been penalised.

The gate (pictured) covers a short stretch of Duke Street, running under a town-centre railway bridge and is restricted to taxis, cycles and motorcycles as well as buses.


Dr Bernardine King, a psychologist who has published academic research on processing visual information, won after arguing that there were too many warning signs for the human brain to handle.

'Consciously to process all the information may take a few seconds and, by that point, you've already travelled down the road,' she said. A traffic penalty adjudicator supported her, concluding that, while the signs were large and visible, as the council had argued, they were too cluttered.

A BBC report has found that the council collected £1.5m from 54,000 drivers over the 18 months since the introduction of enforcement cameras. But the authority is not planning any review.

A spokesperson told Transport Network: 'since we began to issue PCNs, numbers of illegal users have more than halved. This has helped buses using the nearby bus station to run on time, stopped cars treating the city centre as a rat run and increased the safety of pedestrians close to Chelmsford Railway Station.'

An RAC spokesperson told Transport Network that bus gates are a continuing issue for its members, with the quality of signage a major problem.

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