Fury at lack of public consultation over motorbikes in bus lanes

Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to put motorbikes in bus lanes has caused fury due to the lack of public consultation with either of the two groups, cyclists and pedestrians, facing the greatest potential danger from the measure.

The London Cycling Campaign is calling on cyclists and pedestrians to write to the mayor to ask him to why he isn’t carrying out a full consultation, and why there hasn’t been a proper study of the impact of motorbikes in bus lanes on all road users and the environment.

LCC’s chief executive Koy Thomson said, “This is a decision that’s been taken not only against the advice of transport officials and without the input of cycling and pedestrian groups, but also in the face of a warning that it could adversely affect the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. There has been no attempt to assess the impact of this measure across London for all street users.”

Following its own report on motorbikes in bus lanes, Transport for London said that there was no evidence of significant safety benefits for motorcyclists but “potential disbenefits for both cyclists and pedestrians”.

A further study of motorbikes in Westminster bus lanes, released this year, said that there were indicators of concern for cycling and pedestrian safety. The same study raised concerns over reduced motorcycle safety when using some bus lanes.

There has been no study of the possible impacts the measure might have on emissions of pollutants nor on the mayor’s targets for growth in cycling and walking.

In the summer, more than 3500 cyclists presented Boris Johnson with a petition asking him to reconsider his plans for putting high-speed motorcycles in bus lanes.

Responding to a question from London Assembly Member, Val Shawcross, on 15 October, the mayor listed several dozen organisations that were being consulted about motorbikes in bus lanes, including the AA, the RAC and taxi drivers but no pedestrian or cycling organisations were included.

Notes to editors

  • TfL quote: Managing Director for Surface Transport at Transport for London David Brown stated in April 2008: ‘The data used in the earlier report was not considered sufficiently reliable to inform a decision on such an important issue.’ Following a review of the data Mr Brown’s conclusion (April 2008) was that ‘there is no evidence to indicate that motorcyclists would see any significant safety benefits from being allowed to enter bus lanes but that there were potential disbenefits for both cyclists and pedestrians.’
  • Petition text: “We, the undersigned, request that London Mayor Boris Johnson does not make a snap decision to allow motorbikes to use bus lanes, a move that could endanger the lives of cyclists and pedestrians, based on data that Transport for London said was ‘not considered sufficiently reliable to inform a decision on such an important issue'.
  • A parliamentary answer listed a series of pollutants for which motorcycles emit several times more pollution than cars per kilometre. Compared with cars per vehicle-km travelled, PTWs (powered two-wheelers) emit 11.3 times as much methane, 6.3 times as much carbon monoxide, 9 times as much volatile organic compounds (VOCs other than methane), 7.2 times as much benzene, 12 times as much 1,3-butadiene and 8.2 times as much particulate matter.