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Oh!….Bo Jo

June 18, 2010

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=Boris+Johnson&iid=9129112″ src=”″ width=”500″ height=”342″ /]

Ullapool, Scotland –  As London Mayor,  Boris Johnson’s recent Trafalgar Square run in with protesters from the No To The Bike Parking Tax campaign, when he threatened “Do you want to stay in the bus lanes or what? Then stop this protest”, does not appear to have clouded his judgement on the London bus lane access issue. Or has it?

Mayor Johnson (Bo Jo) has announced his intention to allow motorcycles and scooters to continue to bus lanes operated by Transport for London (TfL) after the current trial ends on 5 July. That’s the good news. The bad news, a new 18-month trial starts on 16 July. Yes yet another trial, that’s the fourth in seven years by BRR’s reckoning. If this goes on we will outstrip Nuremberg trial wise.

In parallel to his announcement Johnson released a report into the current bus lane trial independently conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).

It found that:-

Fears of an increase in cyclist collisions with motorcyclists were unfounded.

There was a fall in the cyclist collision rate across trial bus lanes and the control lanes, with a smaller decrease in the trial lanes, and there were no fatal accidents over the period of the trial.

More than half (51 per cent) of motorcyclists switched from riding on the outside of the road to the bus lanes.

Journeys made by motorcycles using bus lanes were, on average, more than 10 per cent quicker than those not using bus lanes and 36 per cent quicker than cars.

Road user surveys of more than 2,000 Londoners also found that:-

Ninety-three per cent of motorcyclists and 51 per cent of cyclists and car and van drivers who were aware of the Motorcycles in Bus Lanes trial supported it.

Fifty-four per cent of motorcyclists said they now use TfL’s road network more often following the start of the trial.

However, some questions remain about the way in which motorcycle riders use bus lanes.

There was an increase in the rate of motorcyclist collisions, predominantly with cars turning into or out of side roads on routes where motorcyclists had access to bus lanes.

At the trial sites there was an increase from 30 to 41 collisions, whereas there was a reduction from 16 to eight collisions on the control sites.

No doubt you will agree with the BRR view that this is very positive. The increase in collisions is less than one a month since the trial began and let’s consider how many more motorcyclists and scooterists would have been in collisions without the use of bus lanes?

Yet Johnson finds himself unable to commit to permanent bus lane access. Like his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, Johnson has opted out of the decision no doubt in an attempt to appease the antis in the powerful and vociferous cycling lobby. The fact that the new trial will run alongside a road safety awareness campaign aimed at improving drivers’ awareness of motorbikes and cyclists in bus lanes. That motorcyclists on BikeSafe  training will have their courses updated to include extra training on awareness of vehicles crossing their path at junctions, and that there will be stricter enforcement of speeding by motorcyclists, is indicative of that. Where’s the extra advice and training for cyclists?

So where are we? Well we have another 18-month of access no doubt coupled with another TFL report. Then what?  If ‘friends’ like Jenny Jones, who represents the Green Party on the London Assembly, have their way no where: “Motorbikes don’t belong in bus lanes. Their speeding makes cyclists and pedestrians feel less safe. This is another manifesto commitment from the Mayor which is coming up against the realities of London life. He should urgently rethink this proposal and keep motorbikes out of bus lanes, for their own safety and the safety of other road users”, is Ms Jones view.

We are in a circular argument? We are the Flying Dutchmen and women of London’s transport network, forever condemned to bus lane trials with a Mayor afraid to tackle the Pandora’s Box of political fallout that giving access would cause.

And the riders rights groups? They have welcomed the new trial. Why? Have they not read to the end of the TRL report? The overall conclusion which says that: “motorcyclists appear to be less safe since the scheme has been introduced”. See you in 18-months.

Access to TRL report here….

Just a reminder to those of you who may have been off planet or are returning from the middle of nowhere. Saturday, 19 June, is the No To The Bike Parking Tax London the Long Way Round M25 demo. This is the one you tell your grand children about!

Details here……

© Back Roads Rider 2010

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2010 9:18 am

    This is not so Bravo for Boris… he never took the plunge and made it permanent.. they will use us a political football at the next London Mayor election which low and behold.. will be in 18 months once the new trial will need a decision.

    And one more thing, you say the massive demo planned by NTBPT is next week, it is actually tomorrow 🙂 19th June! And it is going to be massive, there will be a guest speaker from France FFMC coming over to give a speech to all the riders on tomorrows demo. Plus lots of other riders that have said they are coming from the continent.

  2. Heather Brooke permalink
    June 18, 2010 6:03 pm

    I’m partial to a bit of fudge, nice to know I share something in common with Boris.

  3. Wee Billy permalink
    June 24, 2010 9:46 am

    Shame that Boris has decided on another trial, I suppose that’s having your cake – support by motorcyclists and eating it – appeasing the green/cyclist fanatics.

    Over on the other side of the Irish Sea out in the provinces, it looks like we are not having only our cake but eating it along with an Ulster fry. Bikes in buslanes have been a permanent fixture since 2004. No big fanfare, just common sense. Also – no fees for bike parking either.

    Interesting the whole Riders R Voters campaign in Blighty, maybe I’ve missed something, but since the elections all the promises seem to have become hot air. So all that effort for nothing.

    Well – not quite – over in Norn Iron, the Bikers R Voters campaign seems to have been far more successful. No great fanfares and blowing of trumpets, no need for T shirts, baseball caps or kissing the industry’s arse, just good ole dialogue, providing information to the people that can make a difference.

    And it’s paid off.

    Northern Ireland MP Sammy Wilson for who is also a member of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Motorcycling submitted an Early Day Motion (EDM) to the House of Commons on June 14th, (Motorcycling in the UK) stating:

    “That this House notes the positive impact that motorcycling can have both as an alternative to the private car and as a way of reducing congestion in towns and cities; is concerned that these benefits and the views of motorcyclists are often overlooked in the development of transport policy; and calls on the Government to give greater attention to these issues during the course of this Parliament.”

    You’ll forgive us for gloating….:-)


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