Motorbikes allowed to use London bus lanes

By Ian Dunt

New rules allowing motorbikes to use London’s bus lanes are causing friction in City Hall today.

The Labour group on the London Assembly are calling on mayor Boris Johnson to reconsider his decision, which came into effect today.

Some London politicians are questioning the wisdom of allowing motorbikes to use only some bus lanes – those on Transport for London’s (TfL) red routes which flow with traffic.

“Allowing motorcycles in some bus lanes but not others will only add to the confusion on London’s roads, with cyclists, pedestrians and other road users unclear about which bus lanes can and cannot be used and which roads will be safe to cross without the added danger of an oncoming motorbike,” said Val Shawcross, Labour’s transport spokesperson.

“There must be a limit to how much motorised traffic we allow into London’s bus lanes, which are supposed to be traffic-free.”

The reform is only being operated under a pilot project for the next 18 months, and some groups are calling for the mayor to pay particular attention to cyclists’ safety when analysing the project in a year and a half.

“We all know Boris is a cyclist, but this does not necessarily mean everything he does will be in cyclists’ interests,” Ms Shawcross said.

Individual boroughs can opt out of the scheme. Its effect will be concentrated on TfL’s red routes, which are relatively few in number but usually constitute main routes around the city.

Localised maps on TfL’s website will detail which bus lanes are open to motorcyclists.

The mayor said: “Motorcyclists are already using bus lanes safely in many cities and parts of London so I have long thought we should give this a go on the red routes.

“The new code of practice shows that motorcyclists are taking the privilege seriously and I am confident that all bikers, whether pedal or powered, will do a terrific job of sharing our bus lanes safely.”

Any unauthorised entry to a bus lane could still result in a penalty charge notice of £120. The new rules also apply to mopeds, scooters and tricycles (motorcycles with three wheels). Motorcycles with sidecars will not be allowed in the affected routes.

Mayoral allies say the red routes are easily recognised by the red lines they have on them.