New London Mayor, Boris Johnson looks set to make good on an election promise to allow motorcyclists to use London’s bus lanes despite warnings from cycling organisations, and one of his own senior transport officials, that the move will put cyclists and pedestrians at greater risk of harm.
According to sources within the London Assembly Conservative group, the ‘wheels are in motion’ and the Mayor will ‘rubber stamp’ the decision after technical requirements are met.
London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has written to London Mayor Boris Johnson asking him not to make a snap decision on motorbikes in bus lanes that could endanger the lives of cyclists and pedestrians. LCC is advising the Mayor not to base any decisions on what Transport for London has described as unreliable evidence.
LCC’s chief executive Koy Thomson said, “This would be a decision taken not only against the advice of transport officials and without the input of cycling and pedestrian groups, but also in the face of a warning that this could ‘disbenefit’ cyclists and pedestrians.”
According to LCC, “Providing new high speed channels for motorcycles along major roads will inevitably increase motorcycle use. More motorcycle traffic will spread to all streets in London and will bring with it an increase in casualties for vulnerable road users. It is well established that motorcycles are involved in a greater proportion of collisions per kilometre with pedestrians and cyclists than are cars.”
Only two months ago the prospect of motorbikes in London’s bus lanes seemed to have been ruled out, when the previous Mayor, Ken Livingstone, accepted the findings of a TfL report which found little evidence of improvements to safety for motorcyclists. “The final published report shows only a very small safety benefit for motorcyclists against a larger disbenefit for other vulnerable road users,” said Livingstone at the time. “On this basis I do not propose to further allow motorcyclists to use bus lanes.”
Speaking at the time of this decision TfL Managing Director of Surface Transport, David Brown said, “We undertook this trial to see if we could improve road safety for all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. The results to date do not support a change in policy in this area.”
However, during the following month’s election campaign Mr Johnson accused an aide of Livingstone’s of suppressing an earlier TfL report that purported to show that casualties amongst motorcyclists would be halved, with no apparent extra risk to cyclists or pedestrians, if they were allowed to use bus lanes.
“Not only is this a fraud on Londoners with motorcycles but it is a cynical refusal in an election year to implement a measure that could both cut congestion and save lives.”
TFL’s response at the time was that the earlier report was flawed.