Council’s astonishing U-turn over left-turn ban

Photo of no left-turn signage at the Hambrook lights.

Commuters who travel between Bradley Stoke and destinations in East Bristol have welcomed an astonishing council U-turn on a hugely unpopular ‘no left-turn’ restriction at the Hambrook lights, which they claimed was adding upwards of ten minutes to their journey times.

The restriction, which applied to traffic approaching the lights on the B4058 Bristol Road from Winterbourne, had been introduced on a trial basis from Monday 13th November as part of the traffic management measures associated with the Bromley Heath Viaduct (BHV) repair works on the A4174 Ring Road.

Explaining the move, South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) said the need for left-turning traffic to join the contraflow on the A4174 was leading to “queuing along the B4058 of vehicles travelling straight ahead or turning right”. Vehicles wishing to travel eastbound on the ring road would now need to turn right at the lights and travel around the roundabout at Junction 1 of the M32.

However, in the days after the change came into force, many motorists chose to ignore the recommended diversion and go straight ahead at the lights, leading to increased congestion in Frenchay. There were also reports of vehicles continuing to make a sharp left turn at the lights once they had reached the carriageway of the A4174.

Reactions on the council’s dedicated BHV Facebook page were overwhelmingly negative, with hundreds of comments describing the restriction as “absurd” and “ridiculous” and pointing out the side effects on congestion in the wider area.

Three days into the trial, SGC published an overview diagram of the diversion route, adding: “It might seem counter-intuitive but traffic is moving around the M32 roundabout. Please follow the diversion signs, this will help your journey. The trial will continue for a total of two weeks, until Friday 24th November, when a decision will be made to retain the no left turn manoeuvre or reinstate it.”

A further announcement a day later said traffic light timings at junction 1 of the M32 had been changed and “it should be quicker to follow the diversion route than going straight directly into Frenchay … Please try it and let us know how you get on.” Motorists, however, were not convinced, with one replying: “Took 15 minutes to get around the roundabout and back to Hambrook lights last night at 6pm. Shan’t be doing that again.”

When the initial two-week trial period came to an end on 27th November, SGC announced a one week extension, continuing to insist that the measure had improved journey times “on some routes” and saying it would be “taking actions to encourage the use of the diversion”. Signs saying “No left turn, CCTV in operation” duly appeared the following week.

A week later, on 4th December, SGC announced that, having taken account of traffic data, on-site observations and “constructive feedback” from members of the public, the ‘no left turn’ restriction would be retained for the duration of the BHV works, sparking another torrent of negative comment on its Facebook page.

But then, just two days later, on 6th December, an astonishing U-turn was announced on the BHV Facebook page: “Following feedback received from local residents and councillors, and a review of traffic management in the vicinity of the Bromley Heath Viaduct, it has been decided to reinstate the left turn at Hambrook (B4058 Bristol Road) … from Monday 11th December.”

“Although the trial recorded data showing improvements to the traffic flow on the wider network, there has been significant congestion through the Frenchay area. In response to residents’ concerns, we have decided to revert to the traffic management in place before the trial.”

The statement added: “All other traffic management implemented during the work at Bromley Heath Viaduct will remain in place, including other changes at the Hambrook lights.”

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 4 & 5). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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