Firstly a big thanks to this forum and the people here for their tips!
Recently had a bus lane PCN cancelled by Lambeth Council. Hopefully anyone in a similar situation can benefit from the resources and information below.
Judging by the c.£172k (!!!) in average annual income from this single location. This is very nearly almost resembles a racketeering operation by Lambeth Council. No doubt there are some legitimate contraventions, however the nature of this particular area would suggest some motorists are caught out due to failings on the behalf of Lambeth Council to follow Traffic Sign Regulations.
On driving southbound on Westminster Bridge Road towards Lambeth North station, unwittingly ended up in a bus lane as road markings and signage was incorrect and/or insufficient (see images). Received a letter a few weeks later with an initial £65 fine if paid in 14 days, or £130 thereafter.
Scoured this forum and a few others for some advice as I'm usually quite vigilant with bus lane operating times and didn't recall seeing one. Found some good advice as to how a Bus Lane, and indeed other road systems, should be set-up in ‘The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002’. Went back in person and walked the area, took a few pictures of everything. In particular, the very poor lighting, and blocking (ironically) by parked buses of the first sign; lack of distance between 1st & 2nd signs; potentially unsafe conflict area with pedestrian crossing markings; twisted signs and short road markings and so on.
I did this not to be pedantic. One would imagine roads systems are designed to allow road users to travel as safely as possible, giving consistent and recognisable warning of any changes in the road ahead. Our appointed officials must play by the rules if they expect us to, and be held accountable when they do not.
Having gathered some evidence I drafted the following letter as an informal appeal:
I am writing to informally challenge the issuing of the above PCN on the following grounds:
The bus lane in question is non-compliant with the ‘The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002’ deeming the PCN unenforceable. The restrictions were not correctly signed and the road markings were incorrect.
1. The sign to diagram 958 is not located 30 metres in advance of the lane taper. As shown in the attached image, a sign is only located at the start of the taper. (Fig. 1 – taken 07/11/2014)
2. The sign to diagram 958 is not clearly visible. As shown in the attached image, the sign has been rotated to a position near-parallel to the flow of traffic. Rendering it not possible to safely view from the usual left lane driving position. (Fig. 2 – taken 07/11/2014)
3. The taper to indicate the start of the lane is not the required length or ratio of 1:10. (Fig. 3 – taken 07/11/2014)
4. The deflection arrows to diagram 1014 are not positioned correctly and are not the correct length. There are no deflection arrows upstream of the start of the taper as required. The position the arrows should be, would actually conflict with pedestrian crossing road signs. (Fig.4 – extract from Google Maps on 07/11/2014)
5. The pictures of the alleged contravention supplied on the PCN do not conform to ‘The Bus Lane Enforcement Camera Handbook’ published by the Home Office. Failure to show the correct information in the correct order must prove that the images are not admissible and render them void therefore there is no evidence that any contravention occurred. Therefore the instrument used does not appear to be an approved device.
6. Further, on inspection of the footage provided:
a. No buses were hindered in their progress – alleged contravention would be de minimis
b. There is no gain in position on another vehicle – alleged contravention would be de minimis
c. Any attempt to rectify my driving position would have necessitated a rapid lane change to the adjacent right hand lane before another rapid lane change to the left, in order to turn left at the traffic lights ahead to continue my journey. Actions which I would deem confusing and hazardous to other road users, particularly cyclists.
Should these representations be rejected then please treat this as a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the following documents:
a. A copy of the bus lane order or regulation giving effect to the Bus Lane.
b. A copy of the Safety Audit for this road layout.
c. A copy of the engineer’s scale diagrams showing the layout of this Bus Lane, the road markings and the signage (including warnings of camera enforcement).
d. Copies of any approvals of deviations of signage from The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions.
e. Logs of maintenance visits verifying existence and condition of the signs.
f. Certification of type approval of the CCTV device.
g. Details of the number of times that the videotape used has been degaussed and reused.
h. A copy of the Camera Enforcement logbook recording the alleged contravention.
i. Copies of the still images showing all the required information in the correct order.
j. The number of PCNs issued by London Borough of Lambeth in respect of this location.
k. The number of PCNs issued by London Borough of Lambeth in respect of this location and cancelled by them following informal challenges.
l. The number of PCNs issued by London Borough of Lambeth in respect of this location and cancelled by them following formal appeal to them.
m. The number of PCNs issued by London Borough of Lambeth in respect of this location and cancelled following appeal to a PATAS adjudicator.
n. The number of PCNs issued by London Borough of Lambeth in respect of this location and not pursued by them for any other reason.
o. The average monthly penalty revenue raised by London Borough of Lambeth in respect of this location.
I ask that you acknowledge this challenge at your earliest convenience and respond with your reply.
The informal appeal was rejected, to little surprise. Being quite adamant this bus lane was incorrect, I was quite willing to take this the full 12 rounds of appeals PTAS etc. For the formal appeal I sent the same letter, less the FOI requests. After several months of waiting the PCN was then cancelled!
I do hope the above is of some use to anyone in a similar situation!
Link 1: google maps (retrace your steps!)
Link 2: pepipoo.com/lofiversion/index.php/t81781.html
Link 3: consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?290879-Bus-Lane-PCN/page11
Link 4: davidmarq.com/uploaderv6_1/files/7/PATAS.pdf
Link 5: forums.pepipoo.com/index.php?showtopic=92678&pid=992720&mode=threaded&start=#entry992720
Link 6: londonbikers.com/forums/840159/Bus-Lane-Fine,-but-I-think-I-can-get-away-with-it?PageIndex=3
Drove in a bus lane as road markings and signage were incorrect. Informal appeal failed, formal appeal successful. £130 saved!