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Maybe it's time to let us all use bus lanes

By Claire Harrison

Belfast's Ormeau Road is a frustrating commuter route to drive down at the best of times. So the last thing it needs is the traffic of an equally frantic road channelled in its direction.

I am one of the thousands of motorists who sit fuming on the Ormeau Road every morning — hemmed into one lane to endure long tailbacks on one of the busiest roads in the city while the bus lane moves freely and seemingly sparsely. Sometimes I experiment by taking the parallel Ravenhill Road instead but it too is a car park in disguise and doesn’t make my daily journey in any quicker.

There are two blessings on the discovery of a “large void” lurking under the tarmac of Ravenhill, followed by more holes. Firstly, it was discovered by workmen before it decided to present itself as a big sink hole. Secondly, it happened in July when both roads are at their quietest so a potential traffic catastrophe has been avoided... so far.

That’s not to say I wasn’t scratching my head as I approached Ormeau yesterday morning to note that the Ravenhill Road had been completely blocked off and all drivers were being invited to cut down my way instead. Thankfully, it wasn’t complete logjam with it being the July holidays but the delays were definitely significantly longer than my journey in on Monday.

And as usual, the bus lane sat unimpeded with an occasional bus passing by, outnumbered by the bandits who take their chances on it. As it lifted at 9.30am — allowing to extra traffic to flow along two lanes instead of one — it was even more frustrating to see drivers block it by parking casually and completely legally.

If this problem is going to run on for more than a couple of weeks, roads chiefs need to seriously think about temporarily suspending the bus lane and stopping halfwits parking on it because when the Ormeau and Ravenhill roads crank back up to their full capacity, two into one simply won’t go.

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