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A47 Heartlands Spine Road Car Sharing Lane

The problem

A47 Spine Road

We've all experienced the effects of traffic congestion on our roads, especially during peak hours in the city, which we are all aware is going to be an ever growing problem. Did you know that during peak times four out of five vehicles in Birmingham have just one person in them? In reality with a few small changes to our commuting habits we can make travelling into the city a more enjoyable and less frustrating experience. We could also reach our destination quicker by increasing the number of people travelling in each vehicle.

Be part of the solution!

We can increase the number of people in each vehicle quite simply by car-sharing.

Birmingham City Council is actively promoting car sharing as a real alternative choice when making a journey.

About car sharing

Car sharing is an informal arrangement between two or more people to travel together in one vehicle instead of each travelling in their own vehicles. There are significant benefits to be had by car sharing, you can:

  • save money on fuel and running costs;
  • reduce mileage and wear and tear on your vehicle;
  • help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint; and
  • enjoy a more sociable and less stressful way to travel.

The car share lane runs between Spitfire Island and Ashted Circus and operates along the inside lane of the A47 heading towards Birmingham city centre, however the lane will stop at junctions where vehicles need to turn left.

The car share lane applies only to traffic travelling towards the city centre and operates from 7am - 10am, Monday to Friday. Signs and road markings clearly mark out the lane; please familiarise yourself with these signs:

What the lane has achieved

For the first 36 months of its operation we monitored the effects of the car share lane on traffic on the route and on other nearby roads:

We found that:

  • the car share lane has successfully moved more people along this route in the same number or fewer vehicles than before;
  • the number of vehicles has not reduced as much as we thought it might – this is because new developments have opened near the A47 since the car share lane started and so more people want to travel along the route;
  • journey times along the route have not really changed – car sharers have slightly quicker journeys than other traffic;
  • because more people are travelling in the same number or fewer vehicles, emissions of carbon and other pollutants per person have reduced;
  • there has not been any change in the number of people or the number of vehicles on nearby roads such as Tyburn Road or Washwood Heath Road – this suggest that the changes we’ve seen on the A47 are due to the car share lane rather than other things that might affect all roads;
  • most of the vehicles that use the car share lane are allowed to do so, but there are some locations where higher numbers of vehicles not carrying passengers tended to use the lane – when enforcement of the lane takes place it in future in can focus on these locations; and
  • we did receive some negative comments about the scheme, but compared to the number of people that use the route every week the numbers of people complaining are very small.

Who can use the Car Share Lane?

The following vehicles are allowed to use the lane:

  • cars, vans and light goods vehicles (under 7.5 tonnes) carrying at least one person in addition to the driver;
  • all buses and coaches;
  • pedal cycles;
  • motorcycles;
  • emergency vehicles;
  • heavy goods vehicles (over 7.5 tonnes); and
  • hackney carriages – whether carrying passengers or not.

Vehicles NOT allowed to use the car share lane are:

  • cars, vans and light goods vehicles (under 7.5 tonnes) carrying only the driver.


The car share lane will be enforced by the Police and fines will be given to people driving in the lane who are not allowed to use it.

Ongoing work

Following the 36 month trial, the lane became permanent on 18 November 2010. We will continue to monitor its use and work with West Midlands Police on enforcement. In the longer term we will be looking at whether the lane can be opened up to vehicles that use clean fuel technologies such as electric or hydrogen powered cars.