Cycles in London’s Bus Lanes

On the cycling theme for a moment, I’m wondering what the thinking is out there about London’s trial for motorcycles in the bus lanes (where pedal cyclists currently dwell). We’ll have to wait and see the results of the trial, but it brings up some interesting inter-modal issues. Will this really pose no risk to cyclists, as TFL claims, or would that risk be smaller than the risk posed to motorcyclists by cars? What about the increased emissions in the path of cyclists? Is there sort of thing standard elsewhere? How well do pedal and motor cycles intermingle — what about speed differences (motorcycles tend to attract much more risk-seeking users, at higher speeds, with predictable results)?

On the last point, did you know more U.S. Marines have been killed on motorcycles in the past 12 months than in Iraq?

[] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2008 at 12:41 pm and is filed under Cities, Congestion, Cyclists, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Cycles in London’s Bus Lanes”

  1. leeg Says:

    In other British cities such as Bristol, Bath and Swindon, motorcycles and cyclists are already both allowed in the bus lanes.

  2. Carlton Reid Says:

    In Newcastle on Tyne, UK, the bus lanes are called ‘no car lanes’. So, lorries, vans, taxis, and motorbikes use these lanes.

    What category is an SUV? Mini-bus? Van? In Newcastle, SUVs certainly aren’t cars!

    Regarding motorbikes in London’s bus lanes, the CTC is dead against it. There’s a story on their opposition in the current BikeBiz magazine, now available here (couldn’t find anything on

    The London Cycling Campaign is also up in arms:

    ‘Course, Boris Johnson – London Mayor – is a cyclist so maybe once he gets buzzed by a motorbike in a bus lane he’ll see it’s not such a good idea?

    However, he’s not been terribly pro-cycling so far, perhaps fearing a media backlash if he favoured cycling over other forms of transport.

    In his politically incorrect days he wasn’t so circumspect:

  3. Peter Says:

    motorcyclists should be allowed to ride where bicyclists ride when they are on bicycles.

  4. David Hembrow Says:

    Having cycled for decades in the UK before moving over here to civilization, and having shared lanes with buses and motorcycles, I have to say that I find buses are a bigger problem than motorcycles. They’re larger and about the same width as the lane. This leads to the drivers trying to pass where there simply isn’t room.

    Motorcyclists, on the other hand, are at least fellow two-wheeled travellers. Some of their number are irresponsible, but in general I find them not to be a problem.

    However, mixing cyclists with either motorcycles or buses is basically a bad idea. Either reduces the subjective safety of cyclists, and leads to less cycling. The UK already has one of the lowest cycling rates in the world because the conditions for cycling simply are not pleasant.

    If more people are to be encouraged to cycle then cyclists need to be looked after and given space within which it is pleasant to cycle. Mixing with faster and heavier vehicles does not achieve this.

  5. Carlton Reid Says:


    What about ‘brommers’, those very fast scooter things? When I cycled in the Netherlands with my young family last year, those things used to scare us silly.

    Some Dutch bike lanes seemed to let them in, others didn’t.

  6. David Hembrow Says:

    Bromfietsen are limited to quite a low speed, and are a small part of the traffic overall. How small depends where you live – here there are very few of them. It’s a demographic thing. They’re mostly ridden by old grannies very carefully, but in some places you’ll find quite a lot of youths have them.

    They are generally not allowed on urban cycle paths, but also because of their slowness they are not allowed on interurban roads, so then they are allowed on the cycle paths.

    When I first visited the Netherlands I found them a nuisance, but I think that was lack of familiarity more than anything else. I find in practice that I encounter them rarely and the riders are usually polite.

    In contrast to drivers of cars, riders of bromfietsen are likely to come off as badly as any pedestrian or cyclist they might happen to have a collision with.

    The Netherlands is _very_ safe place to cycle. In fact, a very safe place to live in general. Even in Amsterdam, the busiest place and where there are a relatively large number of brommers, they don’t really feature in the bike accident deaths as you’ll see here:

Leave a Reply

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

[] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



[] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
November 2008
« Oct   Dec »