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Monday Dec 03, 2012

Cape Town plan to erect poles on highway

Cape Town will place poles along the N2's dedicated bus lane to help clamp down on private motorists who illegally use the lane.

Hundreds of bus lane offences were recorded in just five weeks and the illegal usage remains a major problem.

The poles will be put in place at the start of the period of bus lane operation, at 6am, and removed at the end, at 9am. New cameras have also been installed.

The city's Highway Ghost Squad started operating in October. Along the N2, they have issued more than 400 fines to motorists who were using the lane.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said there was a low level of compliance.

"The N2 lane is still problematic, although we have replaced the provincial cameras with new cameras which not only monitor the bus lane compliance but also speed over distance," he said.

Smith said the city had also applied to place poles along the bus lane as a "mechanical engineering solution to the enforcement challenges".

Smith said authorities in Los Angeles were having similar problems and the introduction of the poles had seen an improvement.

"These pegs will prevent motorists from ducking in and out of the lane to avoid cameras and enforcement staff. Other cities in the world use a similar system, for example in Los Angeles."

He said city traffic services would manage the project and would place and remove the poles each day.

There would be spaces for public transport vehicles to move into the lane.

However, Smith said the biggest problem was along the parts of the N2 where there were no entry points for a long stretch.

"This means when a private motorist moves into that lane, they will be stuck. They won't be able to squeeze back into traffic, which is really dangerous," he said.

He said many accidents happened when motorists abruptly slowed down to move out of the lane when they spotted law enforcement officers. When this happened buses or taxis could ram into the backs of the cars.

Smith said the poles would not cause the driver to lose control of the car.

"It won't cause dysfunction to the car, but it will cause damage. And this will be some kind of disincentive to stay out of the lane."

The city had been in talks with provincial traffic engineers about the start of the roll-out.

This initiative is also planned for parts of Nelson Mandela Boulevard and Hospital Bend.

The city has received scores of complaints from motorists over taxis squeezing into the lanes. Some taxis use the slipways to avoid traffic then push back in.

Another plan for this road involves solid white islands or "road studs".

Cape Argus


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