Transport for London ignores increases in road danger, making motorbikes in bus lanes permanent

Despite three years of trials showing increased danger, Transport for London is going ahead with its plans to allow motorbikes to permanently use red-route bus lanes in line with Mayor Boris Johnson's 2008 election promise.

The report on the second 18-month trial, published on 21 December 2011, shows a sharp increase in both motorcyclist fatalities on red-route bus lanes and the rate of cyclist collisions with motorbikes.

Cyclist-motorcyclist collisions increased significantly, from 10 to 25, while motorcyclist deaths increased from one in the first 18-month trial to seven in the second. 

Collision rates for motorcyclists didn't improve significantly during the second trial, which included an extensive and expensive police-enforcement programme to reduce the large number of motorcyclists ignoring speed limits.

For the second trial TfL abandoned its commitment to gather enough data for robust analysis, and very few statistically significant results were obtained.

The current study reduced the number of sites for detailed analysis and discarded two months worth of data.

Once again TfL has based its policy decision on a lack of data, ignoring the significant rise in motorcycle casualty rates in the previous study.

Its claim that "The safety of motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users is unaffected" is contradicted by the last three years' worth of data. 

TfL's press release makes no mention of any safety gains despite initiating the original trial expecting safety improvements.

The first trial concluded that "motorcyclists appear to be less safe since the scheme has been introduced".

The second trial says its results "did not change the relative overall safety of motorcyclists". 

Among the very few scientifically significant results observed was a very welcome 11.6% decrease in cyclist casualty rates on the TfL road network (TLRN or 'red routes'), though this improvement is better than that reported in other studies by TfL for the same period.

It is in sharp contrast to another significant result that cyclist-motorcyclist collisions increased from 10 to 25 on the TLRN in the second trial.

London Cycling Campaign chief executive Ashok Sinha said, "Cyclists and motorcyclists are both especially vulnerable to bad road policies; TfL's action does nothing to reduce danger for either group."

LCC's road danger expert Charlie Lloyd said, "The results in the latest bus lane trial and those of the previous three trials prove there are no safety benefits for motorcyclists.

"The results of this trial should act as a warning to other authorities not to risk allowing motorcycles in bus lanes."

TfL is committed to maintaining the extra £500,000 annual cost of motorcyclist education and enforcement, taking resources from other road safety budgets.

If you want to tell us your experience of riding in bus lanes, please email BusLanes@lcc.org.uk.

This story was updated on 20 January 2011.

Replies

Allowing motorcycles to use the bus lanes on the A23 London Road in Norbury seems to have been a big mistake judging by the number of times I've seen motorcyclists sprawled on the ground. So much for keeping the traffic moving, eh Boris? And the noise of the things is horrendous. Opening the lanes to buses allows them to go fast and make more noise.  What is it about some motorcyclists and wanting to make a big noise.  Therapy needed I think!

  • By Van Van at 03:50pm 20 Jan 2012

If you read the report the key conclusions are: 'the increase in motorcycle collisions generally involved cars turning left into and out of side roads'... and 'Collisions involving cyclists had increased. However, these collisions were generally with cars and through poor observation. It would therefore appear that collisions amongst cyclists were not a result of motorcyclists being allowed access to the bus lane.'

Call me naive but I'm not sure why the LCC thinks this change in law would have been signed off if it was increasing the overall danger to road users. 

Also, you might want to check the link for the actual report as yours (rather annoyingly) doesn't link to the report. Please update that so people have a chance to read the facts. I recommend from page 120 onwards - the conclusion section is particularly edifying. And I must say, completely different to what you seem to have concluded.

  • By peter39 at 04:03pm 20 Jan 2012
The LCC would do better expending energy keeping motorbikes out of advanced stop boxes and making a clear statement about cyclists jumping red lights. The latter is far more dangerous, both physically and politically. It damages the perception of all road users towards cyclists and we are all given less respect as a result.

I cycle to work in central london most days from Blackheath area; I am also a motorcyclist. From my experiences there is a conflict with fast moving m/cycles and cyclists in a bus lane. If motorcycles were limited to say 15 mph in the bus lane it wouldn't be so bad but I cannot see that happening. Cars and vans don't expect to have people wizzing up the inside when they are turning left out of traffic or when traffic stops to allow a right turn across a bus lane they cannot see into.

Equally cyclists need to stop just going through red lights as if they are not there; the people who do it are generally the most vociferous if any other road user dares to get in their way let alone a pedestrian .

I have to say in all the years I have been cycling I have been knoocked off 3 times now; each time by another cyclist !

 

 

 

  • By Sam_C at 04:23pm 20 Jan 2012

i ride in from High Barnet to Farringdon everyday, 3-4 days a week cycling, 1-2 days a week on my motorbike. Cycling ive only ever had issues with motorbikes when i've been overtaking another cyclist and through my own fault havent checked properly behind me before pulling out. When im on the motorbike i only ride on a red route between the emirates stadium and Angel station, but so far (and touch wood) i have only enjoyed using the bus lane during rush hour, as the alternative is weaving alongside traffic on my side and oncoming traffic. Personally i feel much safer in the bus lane than off it whether on a push bike or motorbike! 

This post was edited by Sam_C at 04:27pm 20 Jan 2012.

I have to say as a motorcyclist, cyclist, car driver and many years ago I drove lorries I think that allowing motorcyclists to go in cycle lanes is positive.  I am not sure about the fatality statistic - perhaps even more fatalities  may have occurred had those motorcyclists been filtering up the outside of the traffic. Indeed I think cyclists have more in common with motorcyclists than not.  The rules being threatened for motorcyclists by the EU may one day be visited on cyclists (eg the pressure to wear hi vis jackets), and issues such as vulnerability to lorries are to some degree shared.

  • By gandalf at 05:24pm 20 Jan 2012

My primary problem with motorbikes or 'PTWs' in Boris speak, is being overtaken at terrifying speeds with inches to spare. The only other vehicles who consistently do this are Black Cabs, but at least you usually can hear them comng.

 

Don't even get me started on motorcycles barging their way past ASLs belching exhaust fumes. There is even a helpful picture of a bicycle to clarify matters, but it is routinely ignored and never enforced.

 "Call me naive but I'm not sure why the LCC thinks this change in law would have been signed off if it was increasing the overall danger to road users." 

Van Van, you ARE naive. Boris promised this to the motorcycle lobby at the last election. All the evidence is that this will harm motorcyclists, but do you know what?  - there's an election coming up and what the motorcyclists want matters to Boris - there's more empathy with Boris from the Motorcycle Action Group than there is from LCC.

MAG have this as one of their major aims so that motorcycles can travel faster. They said they wanted it for safety reasons. When no safety benefit could be found (exactly the opposite actually) they said they wanted it for 'traffic smoothing' and CO2 reduction. Handy that, eh?

 

 

 

 I am a cyclist who commutes up and down Holloway Road and Upper Street every day (my dad is a motorcyclist).   I support motorbikes being able to use the bus lanes.  I think it is safer for them and should enable better traffic flow.   However, I don't appreciate them zipping past me at above the speed limit.  I have had some close shaves in the bus lane particularly going northbound at Holloway Tube (where the motorbikes just see open road) - especially because I tend to take the middle of the bus lane when they don't expect cyclists to (fatal accident apparently caused by an car door opening last year on the other side of the road at that point encourages my stance).

The point is made that there has not been mention of fatalities in the last trial in the media. Has LCC pushed press releases to the media about this or are we only talking amongst our(cyclist)selves?

My biggest bugbear while cycling through London in bus lanes were the notorious bendy buses - they really were a bane of my existance while cycling in town.

The amount of times I had to bang on the side of the vehicle to attract the drivers attention (usually via startled passengers!) when after overtaking me whilst in the bus lane only to try and pull in through me when they noticed passengers waiting at a bus stop!

OK, now that these horrid vehicles have gone I will only really have to contend with buses and taxis (mind you having motorcyles hurtle past you can be alarming at times) which to be honest have been pretty good most of the times, though there have been occasions where "verbal compliments" on their driving ability have been traded.

All of us - cyclist/motorcylist/bus drive/taxi drivers alike do have to share very limited space on the very congested roads of London, so we all have to apply a bit of common sense and patience, as both a cyclist and a motorist I do have grave concerns over the increased use of personal music players being used by cyclist wearing even full "cans" while cycling!

  • By cfrench at 09:40am 21 Jan 2012

I travel in buses and also use cycle lanes in London and the suburbs as a cyclist. 

While many bus drivers are reasonably courteous and a minority are really considerate of their passengers, it seems to be a rule to stop a bus right up to the ASL even when the lights have been red for some time. A simple clear instruction to bus drivers that a bus is not a cycle would be helpful to safety. If the bus is in the advanced stop area for cycles, there is nowhere for cyclists to stop safely while waiting for the lights to change.

ALTHOUGH I was against motor cycles in cycle lanes, I have to say that I've found very little trouble with them in the last couple of years, and they rarely seem to use the ones I use (in Islington, Camden and the West Eng.   If they're getting killed, it sounds like their problem not ours!

 

MICHAEL ELLMAN

P.S. You say it doesn't look like I'm amember of LCC:   I have been a paid up member for over 40 years:  please check your records!!

I'm fine with motorcyclists in bus lanes as it gives them plenty of room. It's when there's gridlocked traffic and they pull out in front of you without looking, so that they can shoot up the inside of the traffic, that I have a problem with.

I've had a few very scary near misses and one or two slight contacts with motorcyclists coming past going way too fast.  I think if this is going to continue the bus lanes should be segregated with the outer 1/3 for motorcyclists and there should be a speed limit of 20 MPH for motorcyclists when they are in bus lanes.

  • By Van Van at 12:31pm 02 Feb 2012

In reply to S_Cochran I think you failed to read the text at the top of my post which kind of proves your point wrong. I'll post it again. If you disagree with it, I recommend you actually read the report as I don't the LCC have read it. Either that or they've just chosen to publish their own conclusion that goes entirely against the actual report. Here you go:

 'the increase in motorcycle collisions generally involved cars turning left into and out of side roads'... and 'Collisions involving cyclists had increased. However, these collisions were generally with cars and through poor observation. It would therefore appear that collisions amongst cyclists were not a result of motorcyclists being allowed access to the bus lane.'

 

RSVP

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