Councils have been provided with new guidance on permitting motorcyclists to use bus lanes. This is the first update the Department for Transport (DfT) has made to its advice on this issue since 2007.
The new guidance gives local authorities the power to allow motorbike users into bus lanes, as long as this is made explicitly clear through traffic signs. The update also outlines the considerations councils must make before deciding, as well as rules around implementing and monitoring these schemes.
The existing policy for motorcyclists allows them to use bus lanes ‘wherever it is appropriate to do so’. New rules will ensure that the presence of motorbike users is stated in the traffic regulation order for the bus lane.
Some of the key benefits and pitfalls of the policy are defined in the guidance, stating that local authorities must act with care to mitigate risks. Councils should consider all safety implications, including the impact on other vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists).
Other factors should also be taken into account, such as the effect on bus journey times due to additional traffic, and making motorcycling an appealing form of transport.
Using a motorbike has several advantages including being a cheaper alternative to the car, potentially shortening journey times for the user and reducing overall traffic congestion.
Many industry bodies like the National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) and British Motorcyclists Federation have called on the Government to expand motorcycle access in bus lanes to reduce congestion and emissions.
Antony Kildare, CEO at IAM RoadSmart, said: “I feel optimistic that change on the critical issue of motorcycle safety can finally be made… In partnership with eminent motorcycle and transport industry bodies, we are calling on Parliament to refocus on motorcyclist safety to prevent the disproportionate risks that riders face every day on our roads.
“We are calling for change, but more importantly, we are calling for recognition. Maybe then, we will finally see a society where all road users, including motorcyclists, can safely and sustainably use the highways together.”