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Protesters turn away cars from car-free zone

Monday, 19 February 2024 11:09

By Guy Henderson, local democracy reporter

Campaigners at Ladysmith Road's bus gate (Picture courtesy: Caspar Hughes)

Roablocks should allow buses only

Seventy vehicles were stopped from going through a buses-only roadblock in Exeter on Monday morning as campaigners took to the streets as ‘human bollards’.

They took the action to demand that Devon County Council and the police enforce the restrictions at the bus gates at Ladysmith Road and Whipton Lane. They were installed as part of the controversial Heavitree and Whipton Active Streets Trial.

Campaigners claim a cyclist mother and her baby were hit by a car in the ‘crush of drivers’ ignoring the bus gate while collecting her child from Ladysmith School recently.

Supporters of the trial say it makes the streets cleaner and safer, but opponents believe it is making journeys longer and increases congestion and pollution on roads around the perimeter of the area.

Monday’s ‘human-bollard’ action was supported by the national group Safe Streets Now that campaigns against road deaths and injuries. Exeter spokesman Caspar Hughes said the event had been a success, and would continue all week at the beginning and end of the school day.

He said: “There was a lot of support, lots of supportive parents and even a supportive taxi driver who stopped to thank us.

“There were also some inevitable angry residents and parents as well.

“But what was really lovely was watching kids on their scooters going to school. It needs to be safe for them to do that, and the best way to make it safe is to remove the drivers from the roads outside.”

Mr Hughes said many local drivers were ignoring the trial and going through the bus gates regardless.

“We have seen far too little action from the authorities, who appear to be blaming each other for the failure to enforce the bus gates,” he said.

“Our demand is that Devon and Cornwall Police work with Devon County Council to provide the resources to police the bus gates, using video evidence and random but frequent patrols.

“The council has decided on putting this scheme in, and the police know about it and should be enforcing it. It shouldn’t be for a group of local parents and residents to police it.”

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