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Bus Lane Use - Nearly but not Quite say bmf

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News that a new ‘motorcycles in bus lanes’ trial will be run in London’s red route bus lanes has been met with a cautious welcome by the British Motorcyclists Federation.

Having actively campaigned for wider bus lane use for over fifteen years, London’s current eighteen-month trial, ending on July 5th, followed a commitment from Mr Johnson given to the bmf in the run up to the Mayoral elections, so while pleased at the trial’s qualified success, the bmf is nevertheless disappointed that yet another trial is being introduced and the effective this will have on other local authorities.

The bmf knows that many local authorities with bus lanes are already cautious over opening them up to motorcycles and this further trial will do nothing to encourage them to introduce bus lane use. The independent report on the existing trial, carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), found that ninety-three per cent of motorcyclists and 51 per cent of cyclists and car and van drivers supported the ‘Motorcycles in Bus Lanes’ trial and that fears of an increase in cyclist collisions with motorcyclists were unfounded.

The report actually found that there was a fall in the cyclist collision rate across trial bus lanes and despite 51 per cent of motorcyclists switching to bus lane use, there were no fatal accidents over the period of the trial. It was also found that motorcycle journeys were now more than 10 per cent quicker than those not using bus lanes and 36 per cent quicker than cars.

Against the positives, the report found that there was a slight increase in the rate of motorcyclist collisions, predominantly with cars turning into or out of side roads, hence says Transport for London, the need for a new trial with greater education of other road users.  Driver awareness is blamed as a key factor and says the bmf, if bus lane access was more widespread across the UK, drivers would become more aware and thus reduce accidents.

Commenting on the report the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said that the initial trial has shown some positive results and that “the chaos that was predicted by some doomsayers has clearly not materialised and, as I suspected would be the case, we have found substantial support for the measure.”

The bmf’s Government Relations Executive Chris Hodder commented: “While we’re pleased with a continuation of bus lane use, the bmf are keen for other local authorities to allow motorcycles access to bus lanes and therefore to change expectations of who or what might be there. We are however pleased to see that the Mayor has decided to address this problem with a better awareness advertising campaign."

For the TfL report

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