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New guidance for councils on allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes

29 January 2024

The Department for Transport (DfT) has updated its guidance for councils on allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes.

The starting point for the guidance is that traffic signs give local authorities the flexibility to allow motorcycles into their bus lanes, but this must be explicitly stated in the traffic regulation order for the bus lane.

It includes updates to legislation since the last version in 2007 but maintains the existing policy that councils should allow motorcyclists – solo-powered 2-wheelers including mopeds – to use bus lanes ‘wherever it is appropriate to do so’.

The guidance notes that there are potential benefits and non benefits of such a move, adding that the decision should be taken with care to mitigate foreseeable and avoidable risks.

The guidance also advises councils to consider the continuity of bus lane routes that admit motorcycles, warning that intermittent permission can be confusing and may pose enforcement difficulties.

Among safety issues that councils are advised to consider are visibility, the impact on pedestrians who may be expecting slow moving vehicles, and any potential for conflict between motorcycles and pedal cycles.

The guidance highlights the risk or turning vehicles at junctions, noting that allowing motorcyclists into the bus lane reduces the risk of them turning across the bus lane but that there may be an increased risk of vehicles turning across the path of motorcycles.

The guidance does not specifically address the potential for coloured bus lane surfaces to have different level of grip from the main carriageway, although it does note that motorcyclists typically require smooth and non-slippery surfaces.

The DfT guidance recommends that councils should consult when introducing motorcyclists into a bus lane and provides advice on monitoring and enforcement.

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