Transport for London (TfL) plans to consult on the proposal to allow motorcyclists to use bus lanes on the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN). But the TLRN comprises only about 5% of the roads in London.
London’s Boroughs need to make decisions as to whether to allow motorcycles to use the bus lanes on the road they manage.
Read the Mayor’s reply to a question about non-TfL roads.
Question No: 1525 / 2008
There are many cyclists in Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest who cycle for work and for pleasure and who want to feel safe when using bus lanes especially as people are being encouraged to cycle through Hackney and Waltham Forest to London 2012 events. Given that the TfL study into the safety of allowing motorcycles in bus lanes was inconclusive, will the Mayor conduct further research into the benefits or otherwise of this proposed policy as recommended in the Department for Transport’s Traffic Advisory Leaflet “The Use of Bus Lanes by Motorcycles”? Will the Mayor also consult with those representing motorcyclists, bus and freight operators, taxi drivers, pedestrians, equestrians, cyclists, disabled people and the Police again as recommended in the Traffic Advisory leaflet?
Answer from the Mayor
There will be a continual review of the safety case for allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes. Further usage of bus lanes by motorcycles will allow TfL to gather sufficient data to determine conclusively the safety case.
TfL will consult on the proposal to allow motorcyclists to use bus lanes on the Transport for London Road Network. The issue of TfL allowing motorcycles into bus lanes can only unilaterally take place on bus lanes for which TfL acts as highway authority, making up only 5% of the roads in London. London’s Boroughs would need to make decisions on this issue themselves.
As the Mayor makes clear, he has no power to insist on support from local boroughs; it is up to each
Borough to decide for itself.
The Councils in the Boroughs of Hackney and Lewisham have both resolved not to allow motorcycles in the bus lanes in the roads that they control.
Deputation to Camden Council 8th Sept 2008
Camden Cycling Campaign is taking a deputation to the full council meeting on 8th September, where we will present a case urging LB Camden not to allow motorcyclists to use the bus lanes on the non-TLRN roads in Camden.
The council meeting coincides with a CCC members meeting, we will cancel the meeting at Primrose Hill. We hope that members will come to the Town Hall to support us. We will move on to a pub after the discussion is over and can discuss urgent agenda items.
Arguments against motorcycles in bus lanes
Direct effects on cycling
- motorcycles are faster and less predictable than buses or taxis (the other legitimate occupants of bus lanes), they can frighten inexperienced cyclists, and seriously intimidate even well-hardened cyclists;
- all cyclists like to use bus lanes as a refuge from other traffic, and indeed many London Cycle Network routes deliberately follow roads with bus lanes in order to reduce cyclists’ interaction with general traffic. When planning a cycle route, the presence of a bus lane will usually mean that providing special cycle facilities can be avoided;
- reflecting these concerns, 3500 people signed LCC’s petition against allowing motorcycles in bus lanes;
- an increase in motor cycle use is poor compared with use of rail, bus, or cycle when noise and pollution are taken into account.
P2Ws have direct environmental impacts in the form of pollution and indirect ones via impacts on cyclists and pedestrians.
It is relevant to note that, on average, P2Ws (motor bikes and mopeds) carry one third fewer passengers per kilometre than cars (1.1 against 1.7). Transport Trends 2007 Edition.
Average number of passengers in cars and on P2Ws
CTC had access to the figures behind the graphs and were able to calculate the average number of passengers in cars and P2Ws, they arrived at the following average numbers of passengers:
In conclusion, on average, P2Ws carry one third fewer passengers per kilometre than cars.
Comparative figures indicate that P2Ws have about 14% lower CO2 emissions per passenger-mile
Parliamentary answer to a question by Lord Taylor of Warwick, 5th March 2004 quoting 2002 data from National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory.
Lord Taylor of Warwick:
What assessment they have made of the fuel efficiency per passenger of: (a) road transport;(b) rail transport; (c) air transport; and (d) water transport. [HL3423]]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The fuel efficiency of alternative modes of transport is presented in tabular form below. The data come from the 2002 National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI). Two data types are provided for ease of comparison, CO2 per passenger kilometre and kilo joules (kJ) per passenger kilometre, and are expressed using assumed load factors, not per seat. .
5 July 2004 : Column WA70 (rail, air and sea figures omitted)
|Load factor||CO2||Energy consumption|
|Transport mode||passengers/vehicle||grams of CO2/passenger km||kJ/ passenger km|
|All cars average||109||1,634|
The road transport factors are based on National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) estimates of CO2 emissions by vehicle type in 2002 and combined with road passenger kilometres taken from the 2002 Transport Statistics for Great Britain.
This comes from Hansard
P2Ws but have higher emissions of other pollutants. The main concern relates to hydrocarbon emissions which are on average 5-7 times greater than a car. This pollutant is involved in the formation of ground level ozone which has impacts on human health and is an important greenhouse gas.
P2Ws are about 1.5 times as likely as cars to be involved in collisions which cause injury to cyclists, twice as likely to be involved in causing them serious injuries and about three times as likely to be involved in killing them,
Attitudes towards P2Ws in Bus Lane
An attitudinal survey by Transport for London showed that
- only motorcyclists and car drivers (who are not also bus users)had a majority approving the measure.
- amongst the Vulnerable Road User groups, the main reason for disapproval of the measure was their perception that safety is compromised.
Transport for London carried out trials in 2004 on Finchley Road and A23 and A13 for 18 months. This use of bus lanes by motorcycles was then made permanent. Reports on the trials in 2004 and 2006 show no significant safety benefit.
A TfL report released in April 2008 shows that any safety benefit to motor cyclists is outweighed by increased risk to cyclists and pedestrians but the figures are statistically insignificant.
The following is from the executive summary:
assessment of P2W collision numbers
showed six of the eight analyses as being beneficial to the safety of P2W riders and two of the eight showed a disbenefit to this
group. All four assessments during operational hours showed a safety benefit.
the pedal cycle casualty numbers
showed three of the eight analyses as being
beneficial to the safety of pedal cyclists and five of the eight showed a disbenefit to this
group. Two of the four assessments during operational hours showed a safety benefit.
the pedestrian cycle casualty numbers
showed two of the eight analyses as being beneficial to the safety of pedestrians, five returned a disbenefit and one showed no change.
However, none of the differences are statistically significant.
From page 14 of the TfL Report
Customer research carried out on behalf of TfL into the attitudes of a range of road users
were made available for this study. Studies targeted motorcyclists, cyclists, bus drivers,
pedestrians and the general public.
The surveys showed that only motorcyclists and car drivers (who are not also bus users) as
the two user groups where a majority approved of the measure. Amongst the Vulnerable Road User groups, the main reason for disapproval of the measure was their perception of the compromise to
Among a sample of Londoners, more people believe allowing motorbikes to use bus lanes
would be a bad idea than a good one, but opinion is strongly divided, with 45% in favour and
The report is no longer on the TfL website.
New study (August 22 2008) by TRL:
CCC Summary of Impacts of motorcycles in Westminster bus lanes.The executive summary and full report
can be found at.
London Cycling Campaign’s page on the campaign.
Counter arguments to those used by motorcycle lobby
A motorbike may be a able to weave through traffic jams, but at junctions, motorbikes take up roughly the same amount of space as cars, and carry fewer occupants on average.Reduction of motorcycle casualties
- No significant improvement was seen during TfL’s trials, whereas there was a
(albeit statistically insignificant) worsening in pedestrians and cyclist casualties. It seems irrational to trade one against the other;
- An analysis of motorcyclist casualties shows that a high proportion occur on rural roads where bus lanes are not an issue;
- It is possible that motorcyclists would use the bus lanes to go faster which would negate any supposed safety benefits and add to the risk for pedestrians and cyclists;
- It is likely that access to bus lanes might increase P2W use, which could lead to a worsening of pedestrian and cyclist safety.