Saturday, December 25, 2010

No More Motorbikes in Bus Lanes?

In Ealing, at least. Some reports are coming through that Ealing Council are about to scrap the trial of allowing motorcycles in bus lanes.

It appears from the independent study into the London-wide trial period that safety has decreased. Collisions involving both motorcycles and pedal cycles increased during the study period. Motorcycles had seen a (fairly predictable) increase in collisions with other vehicles where the motorcycle was in the inside lane. The danger is that motorcycles are undertaking the main traffic lane, so a car turning left or changing lanes and failing to observe properly will take the motorcycle out in the classic 'sorry mate I didn't see you' collision, often caused by poorly-adjusted or broken mirrors, 'privacy glass', mobile phones, satnavs or other distractions.

The study also showed that the number of motorcyclists exceeding the speed limit increased which wouldn't help. The combination of a fast-moving biker in an unexpected place and a dozy motorist is a lethal combination.

The obvious conclusion to draw is that because safety has decreased, motorcycles should not be allowed in bus lanes. However, the increase in speeding notwithstanding, there's evidence to suggest that it's 4-wheelers  that are causing the increase in collisions. So would declaring the trial a failure be blaming the victims? After all, although motorcycles are powered vehicles and their riders are usually better protected than cyclists, they're the most vulnerable road users based on their KSI (killed/seriously injured) collision rate. I'd suggest the way forward in safety terms would be to close off side roads along roads with bus or cycle lanes, as this is where the collisions happen. The key is to keep cars, vans and HGVs out of the bus lanes. It's these vehicles that kill both cyclists and motorcyclists.

This is a cycling blog, and I'm not going to make a case for keeping P2Ws in bus lanes. I think the trial was wrong-headed because it gives a group of motorized road users special privileges, which seems to be Boris's tactic to buy votes. Motorcycles are better than 4-wheelers for congestion, but they score pretty poorly on emissions, and offer no health benefits, so on that basis there's no good reason to favour them, especially if there are safety disadvantages for cyclists. However, if cycle campaigners zero in on motorcyclists, I fear we're letting ourselves be distracted from the real menace, which is 4-wheeled vehicles.

1 comment:

  1. The headline stats conceal some curious detail. While collisions involving PTWs increased markedly, there was no significant change in the collisions between bicycles and PTWs. This suggests that despite the very evident (to me, at least) intimidating effect of a Harley Hog roaring past me in an otherwise empty bus lane at well over 30mph, I am no more real danger from PTWs now than before.

    More curious still, a marked increase in collisions between cyclists and other vehicles, mainly cars, and a marked increase in the (subjectively) attributed blame towards cyclists. The report rather blithely concludes that this is not due to PTWs in bus lanes but how can such a gross deviation not somehow be connected? The report is not clear about whether the increase in cycle-involved collisions is for the survey sites only or for the survey (PTW permitted bus lanes)and control (Non-PTW-permitted bus lanes) sites together, but the blame attribution (Fig 42, page 77) separates the two and it is interesting to note that there is a marked increase in blaming cyclists in the survey sites and a marked decrease ditto in control sites.

    What are we to make of that? If I am objectively (if not subjectively) as safe with PTWs sharing bus lanes I can't really object but before the trial continues any further, shouldn't they try to figure this out?