Motorcyclists in London will be permitted to use the capital’s red rout bus lanes under a new motorcycles in bus lanes trial that has been announced by the Mayor and TfL 16 June.
A report into the current trial, which ends 5 July, examined the 418 Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) bus lanes that the trial covered and looked in detail at 28 of those trial sites, comparing them with 28 control sites on parallel routes where motorcyclists did not have access to bus lanes. It found that:
- Fears that an increase in cyclist collisions with motorcyclists were unfounded.
- There was a fall in the cyclist collision rate across trial bus lanes and the control lanes, with a smaller decrease in the trial lanes and there were no increase in fatal accidents over the period of the trial.
- More than half (51%) of motorcyclists switched from riding on the outside of the road to the bus lanes.
In addition a separate study by TfL that used police traffic officers to study journey times in bus lanes indicated that journeys made by motorcycles using bus lanes, were on average 10% quicker than those not using bus lanes and 36% quicker than cars.
Road user surveys of more than 2000 Londoners also found that:
- 93% of motorcyclists and 51% of cyclists and car and van drivers who were aware of the Motorcycles in Bus Lanes Trial supported it.
- 54% of motorcyclists said they now use TfL’s road network more often following the start of the trial.
However, the independent report found that some questions remain about the way in which motorcycle riders use bus lanes. It identified that there was an increase in the rate of motorcyclist collisions, predominately with cars turning into or out of side roads on routes were motorcyclists had access to bus lanes. At the trial sites there was an increase of 30 to 41 collisions, whereas there was a reduction from 16 to 8 collisions on the control sites.
In the light of these findings, the new trial will run alongside a road safety awareness campaign aimed at improving drivers awareness of motorbikes and cyclists in bus lanes. motorcyclists on Bikesafe training will have their courses updated to include extra training on awareness of vehicles crossing their path at junctions. There will also be stricter enforcement of speeding of motorcyclists, to improve safety.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Motorcyclists have made a consistent case to be able to use TfL’s bus lanes, and the initial trial has shown some positive results. The chaos that was predicted by some doomsayers was has clearly not materialised and, as I suspected would be the case, we have found substantial support for the measure.
“There is always scope for improvement and a new trial, with a strong focus on safety, will allow motorcyclists to show that they can adhere to the spirit of the trial and ride with respect. The impact of these new measures will help us decide whether motorcyclists can continue to use the bus lanes in future years. One of the ways we can smooth traffic flow is by encouraging more people to get on two wheels, and the prospect of using bus lanes to avoid traffic and having an easier journey should help with that aim.”
Ben Plowden, Director of Better Routes and Place at TfL, said: “As part of this new trial, we’ll be introducing a focussed road safety awareness campaign aimed at making drivers more aware of the need to look out for motorcyclists’ and cyclists’ presence in bus lanes. Motorcyclists undertaking Bikesafe training will also receive additional information on the need to watch out for vehicles turning across their path at junctions.
“Stricter enforcement of speeding by motorcyclists will also be a priority to improve safety. Taken together, these campaigns will be part of our wider effort to reduce the number of motorcycle collisions taking place on London’s major roads.”
The current trial ends on 5 July and a new experimental scheme allowing motorcyclists access to bus lanes will be brought in following the statutory consultation period. During the interim period between the current trial ending on July 5 and the new one beginning on or around 16 July, TfL won’t enforce against motorcyclists who use bus lanes, although they will continue to be expected to respect the speed limit and all other rules of the road.