Motorcycles in bus lanes

Briefing
Two cyclists in a bus lane

Motorcycles in bus lanes

Headline Message 
  • Busy urban areas can be daunting places for both novice and existing cyclists, and riding outside a bus lane between buses and general traffic can be particularly unpleasant.
  • Being able to ride in a bus lane itself may help cyclists feel safer, especially if it excludes all other traffic.

 

Policy Key Facts 

Cycling UK believes that cyclists benefit from being allowed to use bus lanes, but that these benefits are undermined if motorcycles are allowed into them too. This is because:

  • It encourages motorcycle riders to go faster, with worrying implications for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.
  • They make bus lanes more intimidating, especially for less confident cyclists.

We have therefore consistently objected to any proposals to permit motorcycles into bus lanes.

However, a number of authorities, including Transport for London, have experimented with the idea and subsequently allowed motorcycles to use bus lanes on a permanent basis.

London trials

Well-enforced bus lanes have been a much valued ‘safe haven’ for cyclists in London, doubtless helping to fuel the 150% growth of cycle use on major roads there since 2000.

Transport for London (TfL), however, decided to give motorcycles permanent access to bus lanes on the majority of red routes from 23 January 2012. This followed two trials which, TfL states, reduced journey times for motorcyclists and resulted in less CO2. TfL also claimed that the trial did not affect the safety of motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users, something that both Cycling UK and the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) disputed on the basis of data gathered by TfL itself.

Cycling UK and the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) opposed both the experiments and the final decision.

Cycling UK View 

Motorbikes should not be allowed in bus lanes, advanced stop lines (ASLs), vehicle-restricted areas or locations where pedal cycles enjoy exemptions from vehicle restrictions. This must necessarily apply to all motorbikes, as larger, faster and more polluting machines make up the majority of the motorbike fleet and it is not practical to provide traffic regulation benefits for the safest and cleanest machines alone.

Being able to ride in bus lanes can help make novice and existing cyclists feel happier about riding in busy urban areas.