James Daley: 'Facts suggest that letting bikers sidle up alongside cyclists in bus lanes is a recipe for disaster'


Saturday 14 February 2009 01:00 GMT

For more than a month now, cyclists in London have been forced to share most of the city's major bus lanes with motorcyclists – the bright idea of Mayor Boris Johnson who, in spite of his self-professed love of bicycles, seems to be doing everything he can to make life more difficult for those of us who share his alleged passion.

Allowing bikers into bus lanes has – as predicted – made the experience of cycling in London just that little bit more dangerous. One motorbike on its own is not usually too bad. But when you get a gaggle of them racing up alongside you – after they've being released from a set of traffic lights behind you – it can be mildly terrifying. Especially if you're trying to move out or change lane.

Until last month, bus lanes were one of the few sanctuaries where cyclists could shelter on London's biggest roads. Admittedly, we still had the buses and taxis to contend with, but given that the drivers of these depend on their licences for their livelihood, they're much less inclined to floor it when they see a clear stretch of road. Unlike motorcyclists.

Quite why Boris went ahead with this trial scheme is still a mystery to me. Why encourage carbon-emitting, noise-polluting motorbikers on to our roads, at the expense of eco-friendly, health-conscious cyclists?

Although bikers make the claim that such a move will help to reduce accidents, the evidence to support this assertion is still somewhat thin on the ground. What we do know, however, is that scooters and motorbikes are about 50 per cent more likely than cars to be involved in an accident which causes serious injury to a cyclist, and about 200 per cent more likely to be involved in an incident that results in a cyclist fatality.

Furthermore, a recent study showed that when motorbikes are allowed to travel in bus lanes, their average speed increases – with many travelling at speeds of more than 40 or even 50 mph in built-up areas.

These facts alone are enough to suggest that letting bikers sidle up alongside cyclists in bus lanes is a recipe for disaster.

Add in the environmental statistics (motorbikes emit 11.3 times more methane than cars – and an infinite amount more than cyclists, who emit nothing), and you have to question the wisdom of implementing such a scheme. Nice work Boris.


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