motorcycle bus lane consultation

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20 March 2024

Motorcycle bus lane online consultation

Have your say – your opinion counts

Lucy England

In many areas of the UK motorcycles have been allowed to use the bus lanes for a few years now. We covered the beginning of this story back in January. 
The main issue was, and still is, that it isn’t always clear when they are allowed in the bus lanes and when they aren’t, so motorcyclists often get confused and risk fines for using the bus lanes incorrectly by mistake.
At the moment it is up to local authorities to decide whether, and which parts of the bus lane motorcyclists can legally use, there is no consistent countrywide legislation about it. The implications of this are that you could be riding from one borough to another in London for example, and be legally using one bus lane, but ride into another borough where it is not legal. Clearly this could be disastrous and result in a bus lane fine.
The Department for Transport is aware of this problem and seems determined to change it and make it less inconsistent for motorcyclists. In fact in January 2024 the DfT advised local authorities on ways they could improve the use of bus lanes for motorcyclists.
Following on from this, the DfT wants to improve this situation further, and is inviting all concerned road users and local councils, to take part in a consultation to give their views.
The consultation runs from it’s start date back on the 17th of March, until June of this year and is easy to take part in, on the website.
You can give your views either on the online webpage, by email or by post if you prefer.
The website says about this issue:
Local authorities can choose whether to allow other vehicles, including motorcycles, to use bus lanes on their networks.
This consultation seeks views on allowing motorcycles to access bus lanes by default, as is the case for pedal cycles.”
In our humble opinion that is a great idea and would solve all the quandaries and confusion, but have a look at the website to get a full picture of what they want to know and make your contribution.
A consultation on this was first mooted back in October 2023 in the government’s Plan for Drivers which read:
Think once… think twice… think bike!” as the advertisement said. Motorcycles are an important but sometimes overlooked mode of transport, not just by drivers who fail to spot bikers, but occasionally by government too. Their size and nature make them a dynamic and affordable option for road users, and with that it’s only right that our roads become as dynamic as those using them. To deliver on this, the Plan for Drivers included 2 commitments specifically aimed at making it easier for motorcyclists to access bus lanes. Local authorities already have this ability, so we committed to remind them of their powers, which we set out on 15 January 2024 through an updated traffic advisory leaflet. This made clear that local authorities should allow motorcyclists to use their bus lanes, following the advice set out.
The second, and most important commitment, was to carry out this consultation on whether to make access to bus lanes the default position. While motorcyclists have been able to use some bus lanes for some time, access is neither universal or consistent across local authority boundaries.
Amending this could lead to many positive benefits including shorter journey times for those on motorcycles and less congestion for motorists in normal lanes, all while potentially having little impact on bus journeys.”
Guy Opperman
Minister for Roads and Local Transport
This is a departure from the DfT’s previous position which was to leave it to the local authorities to decide on this issue in their boroughs, but with more traffic on the roads all the time, it now behoves the government to look at it more closely and make some changes. The use of bus lanes by motorcycles has been tested for a few years now and the results are largely positive so perhaps it should now become automatic that bikes can go in the bus lanes, as a default position, unless it’s actually dangerous to do so.
So if you fancy having your say, then here is your chance to support a possible change in the traffic laws on this issue. Just check out the link and give your views on this potentially important issue for motorcyclists and their ease of travel and safety.
Have you been taking advantage of the motorcycle bus lane rules lately? Is it clear in your area which parts of the bus lane you can and can’t use?
Any initial thoughts on this let us know at [email protected] or on Facebook.

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