Friday, September 24, 2010


I had my first 'near miss' in a while with a motorcyclist this morning. It was a scooter-rider actually, so maybe I should say P2W (powered two-wheeler). Scooter-riders are generally looked down upon by 'proper' motorcyclists. But I digress. I was making a left-turn from Lambeth High Street into the bus lane on Lambeth Road. There was a female cyclist coming towards me from the right, but I made the turn knowing there was enough of a gap. At that moment, the scooter swerved around a vehicle and into the bus lane, meaning I had to swerve somewhat into the path of the female cyclist.
The scooter-rider was not in a position to see the junction or see whether the lane-change was safe. I'm not too sure if I did anything wrong. I think the scooter was hidden by being in the outside lane of the vehicle, but I daresay if I'd taken a bit longer to observe I might either have seen the danger of the blind-spot, or seen the scooter. (I would have taken longer to get to work, but going via the hospital is slower still).
Luckily, there was no collision, but it did get me thinking about what danger P2W's pose to cyclists in bus lanes. In general I'm pretty respectful of motorcyclists. They understand the danger of being on two wheels, and the motorcycle test is a lot tougher than the car driving test. Motorcyclists are by far the most vulnerable road users in terms of casualty rates, so just to stay alive you have to have a reasonable level of skill. However, motorcyclists do take a lot of risks. I know, because I used to ride a motorcycle. Even a relatively small-engined bike is faster than most cars, and it is very, very tempting to use the power to overtake in tight situations. Because of that, the road scene is changing much more swiftly than it does for a car-driver or a cyclist. On a motorcycle, things happen very, very quickly, and you cannot let your concentration down for a split-second.
The TfL report on motorcycles in bus lanes said that the trial appeared to have made motorcyclists less safe and led to more speeding by motorcyclists, although cyclists casualties were unaffected. I'm not that surprised, because an empty bus lane gives the motorcyclist an opportunity to undertake a queue of traffic, which puts him/her in the worst possible position for a side-road or in terms of visibility to car drivers.

My near miss today would not have happened if P2W's weren't allowed in bus lanes. However, I think the relatively low numbers of motorcycles and pedal-cycles on the roads means a collision is relatively unlikely.

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