News that the Government has at long last issued advice encouraging local authorities to take a more objective view of the use of bus lanes by motorcycles has been welcomed by the BMF.
The Government's new Traffic Advisory Leaflet (TAL02/07) reverses previous government advice that recommended that motorcycles should not normally be permitted to use bus lanes and now 'encourages a more objective assessment to be made.'
The new stance was prompted by an action in The Government's Motorcycling Strategy and while it wasn't as positive as the BMF would have liked, concentrating as it did more on possible safety implications than the convenience and efficiency of traffic movements, the BMF say that this move by the DfT is nevertheless, very welcome.
The BMF hope that this advice will now have a positive impact on local authorities already approached about motorcycle access to bus lanes, but say it will not, on its own bring about more schemes to allow motorcycles to access their bus lanes. This needs local motorcyclists to play their part and lobby local authorities via transport forums.
Various trials and permanent bus lane access schemes have now been operating for over 12 years and in some cases, like in Essex, they have been rolled out from towns to the whole county. Commenting, the BMF's Senior Government Relations Executive Trevor Magner said: "If we are now moving towards this more positive approach from Government (and hopefully continued exemption from road pricing too), then we will also need robust advice to local authorities to adapt the infrastructure in relation to motorcycle parking provision, but it is local motorcyclists who will need to make the demand if councils are to take note."
The Government's Motorcycling Strategy, published in February 2005, sought to facilitate motorcycling as a choice of travel within a safe and sustainable transport framework. Recognizing that motorcycling has become increasingly popular, it says its benefits include:
- Providing independence and mobility
- Widening employment opportunities, especially where public transport is limited
- Providing a shorter journey time in congested traffic conditions
- Reducing overall congestion and more efficiently using roads and parking spaces
Bristol has operated a permanent bus lane access since 1996 and Reading since 1999. Further sites are to be found in: Essex, Northern Ireland, Birmingham, Bath, Hull, Swindon, Richmond and the M4 bus lane. Being trialled in London are the Finchley Road (A41) at St John's Wood to Hampstead, the A23 to the South and A13 to the East. The Highways Agency is also considering allowing motorcycle use of the bus lane on the A6 in to Loughborough.
Motorcycles are also allowed in some HOVs (High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes). The first HOV lanes will include the stretch of the M1 from junction 13 near Bedford to junction 7 near Hemel Hempstead, and the M3 north from junction 3 near Bagshot to the M25 turn-off at junction 2, both areas already popular with motorcycle commuter users.
Motorcycles are already granted access to HOV Lanes in Leeds and South Gloucestershire.