Bus lanes trial has resulted in motorbike speeding and more crashes

The mayor has extended the motorbikes in bus lanes trial even though an independent report has found that it might be placing motorcyclists and cyclists at greater risk of injury.

The report, commissioned by Transport for London, concludes that “motorcyclists appear to be less safe since the scheme was introduced”. 

The trial data shows that motorcyclist collisions increased on both the analysed (Main) trial sites compared to Control sites and on the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) bus lanes as a whole (compared to equivalent Network Control Sites). 

The report says that cyclist collisions increased ‘significantly’ on the Main sites, but notes that the sample size was relatively small.

On TRLN network bus lanes, cyclist collision rates increased relative to the network control sites, although there was an overall decrease in collision rates. Again the sample size was small.

The study also found that speeding by motorcycles increased during the trial with a greater increase at the Main triail sites compared to the Controls.

LCC said back in 2008 (before the trial started) that although we oppose the measure, we are not anti-motorist and we recognise the common cause of vulnerable road users, namely motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, in improving road conditions.

The trial, however, has failed to show reduced road danger and it's irresponsible to introduce a measure that undermines the mayor's casualty reduction targets.

Increased motorcyclist casualties

The report says:

  • The effect of permitting motorcycles into bus lanes has been assessed after 10 months of implementation. This analysis period is the minimum where any reasonably large effects can be ascertained. This has identified that motorcyclists appear to be less safe since the scheme has been introduced. There were no changes in the safety of cyclists and pedestrians that could be directly attributed to the motorcycles being permitted access to the bus lanes. [p126]
  • In percentage terms there was a large increase in collisions involving motorcycles on the Network Sites, which was not seen on the Network Control Sites. The percentage increase in motorcyclists involved in collisions in operational hours was 27% compared to 15% overall on the Network Sites. Therefore, their safety appears to have particularly been adversely affected in operational hours when they were observed to have generally increased their use of the bus lanes. [p124]

LCC says:

  • The increase in motorcyclist collisions counters one of the main aims of the measure: to improve road safety 
  • The Transport for London press release on the trial failed to highlight one of the report’s overall conclusions that ‘motorcyclists appear to be less safe’ as a result of the trial. 

Increased cyclist casualties

The report says:

  • The rate at which cyclists were involved in collisions on the Main sites increased by 173.3% and decreased by 4.3% on the Control sites. This suggests that overall the main sites had a higher collision risk for cycles.
  • There was a large percentage increase in cycles involved in collisions, however, the numbers involved were small and therefore it should be treated with caution.
    Furthermore, this analysis does not isolate the underlying cause for any change in safety on the sites. (p 63)
  • The rate at which cyclists were involved in collisions on the Network Sites decreased by 5.8% and decreased by 14.3% on the Network Control sites, therefore there was a relative increase of 9.6% on the Network Sites. However, the difference between the expected and observed collisions was not statistically significant and the change in rate was less than the 140% increase observed on the Main sites. Overall, there is some evidence that the cycle collision rate had increased, however, the sample size on the Main Sites was small and the degree of any change is uncertain.

LCC says:

  • The report does not provide an explanation for the high relative increase in cyclist collisions rates at the Main trial sites compared to the outcome for the Network sites at which there was also a relative increase in rates.
  • While the report says cyclist collisions do not appear to be related to the presence of motorcycles in bus lanes it remains unclear how road positioning and concentration of all road users changed as a result of the trial.

Increase in motorcyclists speeding

The report says:

There has been an increase in the percentage of motorcycles above the speed limit on both the Main and Control sites. In the After survey on the Main sites, 47% of motorcycles were filmed exceeding the speed limit between the two timing points. The increase in percentage of motorcycles exceeding the speed limit was 6% on the Control sites and 10% on the Main sites. (p108)

LCC says:

  • Non-compliance with speed limits is a serious danger to all vulnerable road users.
  • Increased breaking of speed limits potentially undermines the mayor's targets of (i) a fourfold increase in cycling and (ii) a 40% reduction in casualties.

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