With the experimental scheme which allows motorcycles to use bus lanes in London due to end on July 5th, the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCI) has today called on the Mayor and Transport for London to make the initiative a permanent feature on London’s roads.
Allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes helps commuters gain easier access to areas of London without the need to mix with other traffic on certain key routes. This helps to reduce rider vulnerability on the overall road space and improve their visibility. The scheme has led to an increase in motorcycle usage in London, with more miles travelled in 2009 compared to other years.
An interim report on the initiative (Nov 2009) noted that the scheme did not impact negatively on bicycle safety and against the expectations of cycle lobbyists, a majority of cyclists were happy to share bus lanes with their motorcycling brethren.
However, motorcyclists need to be aware that they are still vulnerable to cars and other traffic pulling across bus lanes from side roads and MCI is today calling for Transport for London to put greater efforts into publicity and education aimed at making car drivers aware of motorcyclists in bus lanes – in the same way that they do for cycling. Motorcyclists also need to be aware that their speed is important when using bus lanes – too fast and avoiding a car that pulls out becomes more difficult. This is where enforcement and the police-led ‘Bikesafe’ has a key role to play.
Steve Kenward, MCI’s Acting CEO said: “Given that the July deadline is now quite close, we are surprised that the Mayor has been silent about the future of the initiative. We feel that it is important to point out that allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes is a positive step towards improving transport accessibility for London citizens and in demonstrating the positive effect that motorcycling has in reducing traffic congestion and CO2 levels.
“Industry is also saying that TfL has a duty of care to ensure motorcycle safety. In this case, duty of care policy needs to be applied in the same way that it is towards cycling. This means putting more effort into educating both car and motorcycle users about safety and bus lanes. Precisely the same issues affect cyclists in bus lanes and on other London roads – as witnessed by the noticeable increase in cycling casualties (up nearly 8% in 2008) which has occurred since efforts were made to promote cycling in London, but cycles continue to be allowed into bus lanes in recognition of their role as an important transport mode.
“Given that it is clear that cycling has been shown coexist in a safe way with motorcycling in bus lanes, we consider it to be paramount that the positive thinking that is applied to reducing cycling vulnerabilities in bus lanes is also applied to motorcyclists. Safety must not be used once again as an excuse to deny motorcycling equal treatment with cycling. Such a policy would be unbalanced and would actually sustain poor motorcycle safety records and deny Londoners transport choice.
“It is clear that allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes has been a positive step for motorcycling as a whole and a positive step for London, with increases in motorcycle use demonstrating this. However, it is now down to the Mayor and TfL to demonstrate that they are willing to apply a fair hand in how they regard the future of the scheme and focus on motorcycle safety education, awareness and positive ‘bill board’ publicity in the same way that they do for cycling – anything else would be both grossly unfair and demonstrate unjustifiable bias against motorcycling.”