Motorcycles in bus lanes

Cherry Allan's picture
Two cyclists in a bus lane
Two cyclists in a bus lane
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For new and existing cyclists, being able to use bus lanes has a lot to offer. There's less traffic to negotiate and it also feels safer than riding outside the lane, between buses and general traffic.

Cycling UK believes that allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes too undermines these benefits, because:

  • It encourages motorcycle riders to go faster – with worrying implications for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.
  • It could well make motorcycling more attractive. As pedestrians and cyclists are more likely to be injured by motorcycles than by cars in general, this is not good news.  
  • They make bus lanes more intimidating, especially for less confident cyclists.

We have therefore consistently objected to any proposals to permit motorcycles into bus lanes.

However, a number of authorities, including Transport for London, have experimented with the idea and subsequently allowed motorcycles to use bus lanes on a permanent basis.

London trials

Well-enforced bus lanes have been a much valued ‘safe haven’ for cyclists in London, doubtless helping to fuel the 150% growth of cycle use on major roads there since 2000.

Transport for London (TfL), however, decided to give motorcycles permanent access to bus lanes on the majority of red routes from 23 January 2012. This followed two trials which, TfL states, reduced journey times for motorcyclists and resulted in less CO2. TfL also claimed that the trial did not affect the safety of motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users, something that both Cycling UK and the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) disputes on the basis of data gathered by TfL itself.

Cycling UK and the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) opposed both the experiments and the final decision.


Cycling UK View (formal statement of Cycling UK's policy): 

Motorbikes should not be allowed in bus lanes, advanced stop lines (ASLs), vehicle-restricted areas or locations where pedal cycles enjoy exemptions from vehicle restrictions. This must necessarily apply to all motorbikes, as larger, faster and more polluting machines make up the majority of the motorbike fleet and it is not practical to provide traffic regulation benefits for the safest and cleanest machines alone.

For more on CTC's views on motorbikes, see our Campaigns Briefing:

Powered Two Wheelers (PTWs)

Publication Date: 
March 2012

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