Get a bicycle.  You will not regret it if you live. ~ Mark Twain
The main objection I hear to cycling in Birmingham is “it’s dangerous”, to which I usually respond by talking about my (almost) daily commute along the number 5 cycle route. In Summer it takes me through Cannon Hill park, which is not only pleasurable, but also gets me home quicker than if I took the bus or the car. The experience is usually great, allowing me to get my daily dose of exercise, which I am told makes my heart 10 years younger and defies Mark Twain’s quote by making me live longer. This was until an experience I had on Horton Sq, the junction that crosses the Queensway from Highgate to Balsall Heath, where a white van illegally pulled into the bus lane and almost ran me over. All this whilst the driver shouted out the window at me as if I was in the wrong.

The bus lane is the only way over this crossing, which allows me to get straight on to the cycle path on the other side. Cars and white vans aren’t allowed to go over at any time, but these rules are frequently flouted. It has led me, over the last two months, to look into bus lane enforcement and also to consider the amount of times I have been stuck on a bus in a bus lane filled with car traffic.

There are 50 km of bus lanes in the Midlands and only 650 tickets were given out in 2007, so for every 100m stretch there is just over 1 fine per year. No wonder they are so clogged up with cars, lorries and white vans.

So what is the solution? I believe that bus lane enforcement cameras that give out automatic fines in areas where there are major infringements would provide the best deterrent.

Bus journeys shouldn’t take so long and cycle journeys don’t need to be dangerous. I want Mark Twain to be wrong.