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Happy New Year…

December 27, 2011

 

Bury St Edmunds, England – Always good to start a new year on a high..

And London’s motorcyclists and scooterists are certainly  going to be doing just that. For on December 21 Transport for London (TfL) announced its intention to give riders permanent access to bus lanes on the TfL Road Network (TLRN) from 23 January 2012. Yes we now have access to the 478 bus lanes spread around the 580 kilometres of road that make up the TLRN.

The campaign to get motorcycle and scooter access to the TfL controlled London bus lanes has, to say the least, been long, tortuous and often filled with force hope of success. It started shortly after the first London bus lane, on Vauxhall Bridge, was put into service on 26 February 1968 and has continued in one form or another for four decades.

Yes it really has taken 44 years to reach this decision. The log jam of intransigence along with the smoke screen of disinformation only being lifted when a pragmatist arrived in the shape of Boris Johnson.  Elected London Mayor in 2008 Johnson had made it clear during his election campaign that he would allow motorcyclists and scooterists into bus lanes. Indeed his statement that: “I intend to put the commuter first by introducing policies that will first and foremost make journeys faster and more reliable”, is a good fit with TfL’s published reason for allowing a us access i.e. “Benefits include reduced journey times for motorcyclists and less carbon dioxide emissions”.

Be in no doubt that giving us London bus lane access is a political decision that emanated from Mayor Johnsons office. Unlike his predecessor, Ken Livingston, who used a research project into the first London bus lane trial as an excuse to deny access  Johnson, who ordered a second research project to run alongside the latest trial which produced not dissimilar results to the Livingston trial, has simple ignored the academics and the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) and gone with the bikers and scooterists. With 50,000 bikers and scooterists using the TRLN bus lanes everyday and 2012 a mayoral election year it seems that Mayor Johnson really does know his stuff re-election wise.

Of course Johnsons decision has other long-term benefits for London’s riders. Johnson has cleverly sidelined the London Roads Safety Unit from motorcycle policy decisions. Leaving then to do what they should have done in the first place i.e. look after the safety of London’s road users and not play at politics. The London Motorcycle Unit seems to have drifted into “the cloud” while motorcycle policy has arrived at TfL’s Stakeholder Engagement “branch” in London’s Blackfriars Road. Indeed if BRR’s err researcher is correct we may, if Johnson is re-elected, be in for Die Glückliche Zeit (the Happy Time) London biking wise.

So this New Year please don’t forget to raise a glass to all the UK Motorcycle Action Group and British Motorcyclists Federation un paid activists and poorly paid lobbyists who worked tirelessly for more than 40 years to get us into TfL’s London’s bus lanes. At BRR we know some of the names, we also know that some have died while waiting, we salute you. An over used word but hero’s springs to mind. And to the vastly overpaid public relations lobbyists at the UK Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) we offer very grudging thanks.

To the  johnny-come-latelies who have spent the last week on the social media claiming its all down to them, well we fart in your general direction! While hoping you are right that this “is the start of a new era for motorcycling policy development at local and central government level”. See you in the Mayors office, always a good idea to know who you are sitting next too!

Enjoy fantastic riding in 2012. Please always wave, you never know be it at the Nordkapp or in the Atlas Mountains it might be me coming the other way.

This is BRR’s 200th blog, thank you all for your past comments and support.

© Back Roads Rider 2011

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. simon WB permalink
    December 28, 2011 8:50 am

    Happy 200 BRR to go with the new year and glad it’s on a bit of good news, too. Roll on the next 200!

  2. Elaine permalink
    December 28, 2011 11:56 am

    In Norn Iron – the inclusion of motorcycles in the new Bus Lanes in Belfast on the Shore Road, York Road, York Street, and Victoria Street was announced last month and will include a new bus lane introduced on the Shankill Road in West Belfast. Motorcycles are recognised here by our politicians as a quicker and cleaner way to get around – it also helps that some of them enjoy the pleasure of riding as well.

    Thanks for your blogs BRR, we’ve been entertained, shocked and educated – may they continue to do so! Have a great 2012

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