New bus gates in Glasgow City Centre will improve air quality and safety for pedestrians and cyclists, even though rush hour drivers may hate them, an environmental charity has claimed.

But Environmental Protection Scotland (EPS) said motorists had been given plenty of warning about the new scheme. “Whilst they are unlikely to be popular with motorists, the launch of the ‘bus gates’ has been well sign-posted for car drivers in advance and should bring tangible long-term benefits for air quality, pedestrian and cyclist safety and speed up bus journey times,” said EPS spokesman John Bynorth.

The two new bus gates aim to stop private cars from entering Oswald Street and Union Street in Glasgow city centre during peak hours from Monday Sept 2nd, and EPS says they will contribute to reducing pollution, increase the safety of pedestrians and cyclists and speed up bus journeys.

HeraldScotland: Fresh paint alerts road users to the bus gateFresh paint alerts road users to the bus gate

They cover the main north and south bus corridors near to the Glasgow Central Station, where about 360 buses use the streets every hour at the busiest times.

By cutting the number of vehicles and delays on these roads from 7am-7pm, transport chiefs hope thousands of people travelling through the area on foot and on bikes will be safer.

Mr Bynorth added: “Glasgow City Council will be carrying out monitoring of the air quality impacts [of] the ‘bus gates’ . Taxi drivers, their passengers as well as bus users could benefit too – with in-vehicle air pollution a growing area of concern – and make the streets safer and quieter for other users by being less congested.”

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He said measures to improve the priority of buses, giving passengers more certainty about travel times was one of the key recommendations of a recent Connectivity Commission report. This was commissioned from the City Council and chaired by Professor David Begg.

“Glasgow and other Scottish cities need bus services to run on time and average journey times cut if people are to be tempted away from bringing their cars into the city centre, “ Mr Bynorth added.

“Freeing up some of our busiest streets from private cars during the day is an effective way of helping to achieve this."

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Even before the new measures became operational, drivers were taking heed of the signs and road markings to turn away from the bus gate areas, he claimed. “The city council will need to monitor the system so that doesn’t lead to a build-up of traffic in side streets, but hopefully the messages will be heard by drivers.

“The council should ensure that any fines for drivers who transgress the bus gates are ploughed back into improving cycle ways and pedestrian areas and improving the areas around bus stops in the city centre – to encourage people to ditch their vehicles for either public transport or active travel and help to improve the overall environment.”