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Motorbikes in bus lanes from 5th January
28.10.08 by Buffalo Bill

As reported in the Standard:

MOTORCYCLISTS are to be allowed to use most bus lanes under plans by Boris Johnson. From 5 January motorcyclists will be able to share red route bus lanes with buses, cyclists and black taxis. The move, to start on an 18-month trial basis, has been condemned by cyclists and the London Cycling Campaign has written to the Mayor warning him it could endanger the lives of cyclists and pedestrians.

If Transport for London and the Mayor see positive effects from the trial the measure will be made permanent. It will cover motorcycles, mopeds, scooters and tricycles but exclude motorcycles with sidecars. Mr Johnson said: “I am determined to make it easier to get from A to B in our great city. I have long been staggered that while motorcyclists can use bus lanes in other cities and some of our boroughs they were not allowed to use the red routes that crisscross the capital.

“One of the ways we can ease congestion is by encouraging people to get on their bike, whether pedal or powered,” he added.

It follows a three-year study in which motorcyclists used the bus lanes in Brixton Road and Finchley Road. The number of collisions fell by 42 per cent. Cyclists questioned the results after former mayor Ken Livingstone dismissed the study, claiming it was misleading. Tom Bogdanowicz, the cycling campaigns manager, said: “More motorcycle traffic will bring with it an increase in casualties for vulnerable road users.”

Most cyclists are opposed to this measure. The TfL report on the trial is not very clear, and contains the following statements in the introduction:

The pedal cycle casualty numbers showed three of the eight analyses as being beneficial to the safety of pedal cyclists and five of the eight showed a disbenefit to this group. Two of the four assessments during operational hours showed a safety benefit.

The pedestrian casualty numbers showed two of the eight analyses as being beneficial to the safety of pedestrians, five returned a disbenefit and one showed no change.

However, none of the differences are statistically significant.

From this can be inferred that the stats aren’t really conclusive one way or another. According to this blog (whose writer is anti-Ken, and thinks that Venezuela is a banana republic…)

motorcycles in bus lanes has something of a precedent down here in Bristol. It has been about a decade since the scheme was trialled – despite vigorous opposition from cycling groups who argued at the time that allowing other vehicles to use these lanes would place cyclists at risk. The trial was a success and cyclists were not mown down willy-nilly by nasty speeding motorcyclists, and over a ten year period the two groups have coexisted alongside buses rather well. As a member of both groups (although I am temporarily without a bicycle), I am more than happy with the arrangement; it is good for vulnerable road users who are now in a lane away from most other traffic and it is good for pedestrians who can now see bikes that would otherwise be shielded from them when they try to cross a clogged road. Winners all round, in fact.

So I am not sure what to make of the whole thing. I don’t think it’s a great idea for cyclists to be alienating another group of road-users without some pretty conclusive evidence, so I guess that I think that it’s worth seeing what the outcome of the this new trial is, and then making up our minds.

  1. I’m kind of in two minds too about this. Motorbikes generally don’t seem to cause me any problems when I’m on my bike – possibly because they know what it’s like to be on two wheels with their head about the same height as ours?

    nightrider    31 October 2008, 18:47    #
  2. like the man said: “two wheels good, four wheels bad”

    — zero    1 November 2008, 01:22    #
  3. what about 3 wheels?

    — hans kloss    1 November 2008, 07:28    #
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