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.

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This story was updated on 20 January 2011.