Bikes to access Westminster’s Bus lanes

After much lobbying and in light of the recent Transport for London decision to permanently open red route bus lanes to motorbikes, Westminster City Council have today announced that they shall follow suit.

Councillor Lee Rowley said: “Our long term objective is to solve the congestion problems in London by creating a safe, clean and vibrant environment in which all road users can benefit from Westminster’s streets.

“With the use of scooters rising by over 11% in 2011, it is important that the council takes action to help two-wheeled road users get around the capital safely.”

MAG have been working very closely with Westminster Council for months on this issue and it is the realisation that motorcycles can play a significant part in traffic congestion reduction and in the reduction of emissions that swayed the balance.

Since the mid 1990’s MAG has been working with Councils around the country to achieve access to bus lanes for safety, environmental and convenience reasons. Councils as diverse as Bristol, Bedford and Swindon have seen the sense and approved the idea. Bikes do not cause congestion and it is terrific that a flagship council such as Westminster is prepared to begin consultation on 6th March for 3 weeks having acknowledged the safety and environmental arguments.

Much credit for this must go to MAG’s Dr Leon Mannings who has worked tirelessly on the issue.

So far, statistics from the TfL pilot studies have shown a 20 per cent improvement in traffic flow for motorbikes, whereas bus travel was completely unchanged including at stops.

Westminster City Council proposes to introduce a trial scheme in the following locations:

  • Abingdon Street/Millbank (southbound);
  • Buckingham Palace Road (northbound);
  • Harrow Road (northbound);
  • Regent Street (north and southbound);
  • Shaftesbury Avenue (north-eastbound);
  • Strand (north and southbound);
  • Queensway (northbound);
  • Whitehall and Parliament Street (north and southbound).

If research during the scheme shows that safety has improved and congestion has been tackled the council will seek to make move a permanent one across the city.

Dr Leon Mannings, transport policy advisor for the Motorcycle Action Group (UK), already sits alongside other leaders from cyclist groups and pedestrian groups, on a council monitoring panel – a key part in the council’s consultation process.

He said: “This proposal is a triumph of evidence-led policy development and will be a great step forward in ending confusion over which bus lanes can be used by all congestion busting single track-vehicles – whether they are powered by pedals or a motor.

“Like cyclists, motorcycle and scooter riders face vulnerabilities that bus lane use helps to mitigate. We support Westminster council’s recognition of motorcycling as part of the strategy to smooth traffic flow and cut CO2.

“Westminster has been open-minded in its search for new ways to improve the efficiency of our overcrowded road network and tackle many old problems arising from congestion and the use of twin-tracked vehicles. The council has shown appropriate interest in recent evidence to show that allowing PTW access to bus lanes helps tackle those problems.

“We look forward to seeing the results of this trial and spreading the many benefits of this measure throughout the City.”