You are here
Home > NMC News >

Government Consults on Default Access to Bus Lanes by Motorcycles

Consultation issued after work by NMC and its member organisations to bring clarity to the current patchwork of access

The National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) has strongly welcomed a new consultation by the Department for Transport (DfT) which seeks views on making motorcycle access to bus lanes a default position in regulations in England.

In his introduction to the consultation, Transport Minister Guy Opperman MP said “Motorcycles are an important but sometimes overlooked mode of transport, not just by drivers who fail to spot bikers, but occasionally by government too. Their size and nature make them a dynamic and affordable option for road users, and with that it’s only right that our roads become as dynamic as those using them.” Mr Opperman’s remarks are welcomed and reflect the positive dialogue the NMC and its member organisations are having with the DfT on motorcycling matters. The consultation fulfils ministerial commitments made directly to the NMC last year.

The consultation builds on a recent DfT update to its traffic advice leaflet on motorcycles and bus lanes, which now says: “Wherever it is appropriate, local councils should allow motorcyclists to use bus lanes”. Although the update is welcomed, the NMC feels it still contains far too many caveats in relation to access, which extensive and long-standing practical experience of bus lane access reveals are unnecessarily precautionary.

The DfT has been historically neutral on the matter, leaving it to local authorities to decide if this is something they wish to adopt, as set out in their original advice published in 2007. In 2011, they facilitated decision making at local authority level by changes to traffic signs regulations to allow local authorities to permit motorcycles to use their bus lanes without the need for the DfT to authorise the signs. Although these decisions were welcomed, they have led to a patchwork of access around the country, with some local authority areas allowing access, but others not. A confusing situation exists in London, where TfL controlled roads allow access, but many boroughs do not, leaving riders unsure about where they can and cannot use bus lanes.

The consultation which can be found here sets out the options to either keep regulations as they currently stand, or to allow motorcycles to access bus lanes by default. Questions are aimed at local authorities and all others with an interest in the matter and the consultation is open until June 9th.

NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch said: “The consultation is extremely welcome and marks an opportunity to finally bring clarity to the issue and certainty to riders regarding where they can and can’t use bus lanes. The first access schemes go back to the early 1990s and experience with allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes since then has not revealed any notable downsides nationally in terms of safety, conflict with buses or with other bus lane users, with the positives outweighing any perceived downsides. Indeed, a Transport for London survey undertaken prior to TfL controlled bus lanes being opened to motorcycles in the late 2000s revealed a high degree of support among cyclists.

“The benefits to motorcyclists are clear, which includes reduced rider vulnerability and improved journey times. The benefits to public authorities are also clear in terms of reduced congestion potential and fewer conflicts on routes where motorcycles have to mix with general traffic. It also recognises the contribution that motorcycling can make to better urban mobility and enhanced options for travel – important elements of future transport policy. This is a common-sense measure, which is good for road safety and good for urban mobility. We encourage all to support default access when responding to the consultation.”

The NMC will shortly be issuing an advice note on responding to the consultation

Written by Craig Carey-Clinch

Top image courtesy of John Cameron – Unsplash

More information about the National Motorcyclists Council and its members can be found on