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Warning as bikers take to bus lanes

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The IAM warns motorcyclists and cyclists to take extra care when Transport for London’s (TfL) decision to allow motorcyclists to use bus lanes on a permanent basis comes into force on Monday 23rd January 2012. This decision will see London joining cities such as Birmingham and Bristol who already allow it. 

While motorcyclists’ use of bus lanes will help to ease congestion and reduce CO2 emissions in the city, studies by Ealing Council* and TfL*1 have shown a significant increase in motorcycle collision rates and severity. TfL’s review also found that there was an increase in pedal cycle accidents of 173 per cent*, even when the increase in the number of people cycling was taken into account.
The TfL trial of 418 sections of road in London that contain a bus lane, showed direct collisions between motorcycles and pedal cycles. Although there were no direct collisions between motorcycles and pedal cycles in Ealing, the council was concerned that pedal cycles are reacting to the presence of motorcycles in bus lanes by travelling nearer to the kerb than before, making them less visible to vehicles turning across their path*.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “This change will improve congestion and journey times for motorcyclists, and responsible bikers should find it safer being in a bus lane. Safer motorcycling in busy cities will encourage more moped and motorcycle use which can only be a good thing for traffic flow. But the evidence does show two of the most vulnerable road user groups – motorcyclists and cyclists – will be at more risk.

“This decision doesn’t just affect Londoners. With thousands more people visiting London for the Olympics this summer, everybody needs to be aware of the risks. Bus drivers and cyclists need to be vigilant and get used to sharing the space with motorcyclists, but there is a lot motorcyclists and cyclists can do to protect themselves.”
 • Always assume that other road users may not have seen you
• When travelling in a straight line position yourself where you can be easily seen – don’t sit out next to the traffic beside you, or hug the kerb. You get lost to sight
• Be seen. Big blocks of bright colour are better than broken up or patterned clothing, which effectively camouflages you, and always have your headlight on
• Give other lane users time to realise you are there. Give cyclists space and time to avoid startling them
• Don’t use the extra space in the bus lane to unnecessarily increase your speed
• Be careful of traffic crossing the bus lane at junctions, both from side roads, and out of the queue on your right. They aren’t looking for you – they’re looking for a big bus
• Look well ahead to avoid needing to make sudden changes in direction for potholes etc – bus lanes tend to have uneven surfaces
 • Always assume that other road users may not have seen you
• Claim the lane. Ride in the middle of the lane, moving to allow others past as needed, but never ‘hug’ the kerb
• Make eye contact with drivers emerging from junctions, particularly if they are turning right
• Be seen. Check your lights, and wear high visibility clothes.  Put your front light on.
• Be aware of the other people who can use the bus lane.  Don’t let them force you into things that are unsafe – but do try to make their lives easier by letting them past where its sensible
• Don’t position yourself on the left of lorries and buses at junctions or undertake them on the left. The bus or lorry driver can’t see you, and if they turn left will cut across your path. They also have a different turning circle to a car – you risk getting trapped between the vehicle and roadside barriers

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