Opinion Former Article

Lives at Risk in Bus Lane Trial Cover-up say BMF

The British Motorcyclists Federation have accused London Mayor Ken Livingston's office of putting motorcyclists lives at risk by failing to authorise the use of London's bus lanes by motorcycles. The BMF will now be making a formal complaint against the Mayor who is also Chairman of Transport for London.

This follows the leaking of a long overdue Transport for London (TfL) report in to the use of bus lanes by motorcycles. The report (the findings of which of not been disputed), shows that accidents were nearly halved over a three-year period on two trial routes where motorcycles were allowed into bus lanes. In fact it found that when motorcycles were allowed access to bus lanes, it proved safer for all users, pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers and motorcyclists, with a 42 per cent fall in the overall rate of collisions.

Speaking on the report, BMF Chairman Anna Zee said: "Considering that the Mayor set a target for a 40% casualty reduction across London and the only group that has not met this are motorcyclists, this is a disgraceful affair. The report was available in September but has been suppressed for political reasons. Lives are being put at risk for political expediency."

Comparing the trial routes of Brixton Road and Finchley Road with a control route, the report found that accidents directly involving motorcycles fell by 45 per cent, while those on the control route increased by 19 per cent. Also down were pedestrian casualties by 39 per cent against a three per cent rise on control route.

On the perceived danger to cyclists, the report shows that collisions between cyclists and motorcyclists fell by 44 per cent. Summarising, the draft report said: "These figures demonstrate that crashes involving powered two-wheelers and other vulnerable road-users become more infrequent even when considering the increased concentration of riders."

A year ago the BMF welcomed the news that a TfL review was underway of its trials that ran between 2002 and 2005, but has bemoaned the fact that despite repeated requests, the report has still not been published.

Commenting on reports that Mayoral staff have now ordered a re-write of the report to avoid a green back-lash from the cycle lobby, the BMF say that this is like living in a dictatorship where everything is manipulated to suit the state.

BMF Spokesman Jeff Stone said: "We've been involved with the campaign for wider bus lane access for over twelve years now. These findings match what we know from elsewhere and I find it bizarre that an expensive report set up to establish the facts has confirmed what we have been saying - but has been suppressed because it doesn't suit. This smacks of political interference from the highest level."

Ends

Note 1: In March 2007 the Government issued a new Traffic Advisory Leaflet (TAL02/07) to Local Authorities that specifically encouraged a more objective assessment to be made of bus lane use by motorcycles. The Government's Motorcycling Strategy (published in February 2005) also sought to facilitate motorcycling as a choice of travel within a sustainable transport framework.

Note 2: Existing Bus lane access sites

Bristol has operated a permanent bus lane access since 1996 and Reading since 1999. Other sites are in: Northern Ireland, Birmingham, Colchester, Derby, Bath, Hull, Swindon, Richmond on Thames, Newcastle on Tyne, Sunderland and the M4 bus lane. Being trialled in London are the Finchley Road (A41) at St John's Wood to Hampstead, the A23 to the South and A13 to the East.

Motorcycles are also allowed to use some HOVs (High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes). Those in Leeds and South Gloucestershire have been used for some years while others will include the southbound stretch of the M1 from junction 13 near Bedford to junction 7 near Hemel Hempstead, and the M3 north from junction 3 near Bagshot to the M25 turn-off at junction 2, both areas already popular with motorcycle commuter users.

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