Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Motorcycles in Bus Lanes

I've just sent off this to the council:

Dear Cllr Havard,

According to a report in the Coventry Telegraph of 7 February the council has received a petition requesting that motorcycles should be allowed to legally use bus lanes. On behalf of CTC, the National Cycling Charity, I wish to register opposition. I assume that you will be dealing with the matter, if not please forward these objections to whoever is.

The main reasons for opposing motorcycling in bus lanes are its impacts on road safety and public health.
Transport for London recently conducted two trials to assess the safety of allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes. (link) The conclusion from the first trial was that "motorcyclists appear to be less safe since the scheme has been introduced" (see Overall Conclusions, p126). While the second trial indicated no change in the overall motorcyclist collision rate, it showed an increase in the rate of collisions between motorcyclists and pedal-cyclists (see Executive Summary, point 3).

So when, in the trials, motorcycles used bus lanes either motorcyclist safety fell or pedal-cyclist safety fell. Both trials show no evidence of an increase in anyone's safety.

In the 1950's many Coventarians cycled to work and obesity was not a problem. Today it is, leading to one of the main justifications for increasing cycling levels: public health. Any measure which reduces the level of cycling hinders the campaign against the chronic health problems associated with physical inactivity. The perception that cyclists are at risk from motor traffic is the main factor which puts people off cycling. It is not the collision rate, as measured in the Transport for London trials, but the perceived hazard which dissuades people. Having a large motorcycle speed past, between you and the next lane of moving traffic is perceived as a significant hazard!

Cycling to the city centre, I habitually use the bus lane on the westbound carriageway of Sky Blue Way, returning (eastbound) on (one way) Far Gosford Street. I often see westbound cyclists on the Far Gosford Street pavement, the Sky Blue Way pavement and even the Far Gosford Street carriageway! Clearly these people are intimidated by the buses and taxis in the Sky Blue Way bus lane; motorcycles would be an additional hazard. Having been intimidated from using the carriageway, more people may cycle on the footway, worsening the environment for pedestrians.

The council is able to put pressure on bus and taxi drivers to behave in a considerate manner, via the bus operators and the taxi drivers' associations, Something similar with motorcyclists is not possible as there's no organisation of motorcyclists able to exert pressure on motorcyclists in general to behave well.

The only benefits of allowing motorcycling in bus lanes listed on the Transport for London website are that it reduces journey times for motorcyclists and it reduces carbon dioxide emissions. Delays caused by traffic congestion are far less of a problem in Coventry than in London. Motorcyclists are not an influential section of Coventry's population, there's no reason to promote their noisy mode of transport at the expense of public health or road safety. Large motorcycles produce much the same carbon dioxide per mile as small cars.

While Coventry can benefit from examining what has happened in London, Birmingham and elsewhere, that doesn't mean that it need follow the conclusions of their traffic managers.

George Riches
CTC Right to Ride representative for Coventry

Transport Research Laboratory reports:
  1. FINAL PROJECT REPORT PPR495 "Assessment of TfL’s experimental scheme to allow motorcycles onto with-flow bus lanes on the TLRN" I.York, S.Ball, O.Anjum, D.Webster. June 2010
  2. CLIENT PROJECT REPORT CPR1224 "Motorcycles in Bus Lanes - Monitoring of the Second TfL Trial" I York, S Ball and J Hopkin. December 2011


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