Can motorbikes use all bus lanes?
Many forward-thinking local authorities, knowing that motorbikes ease congestion rather than contribute to it, allow motorcycles to use bus lanes.
However, many councils do not and the only way bikers know if a bus lane is safe to use and free from a potentially fine, is to read the signs.
The simple rule is, unless it is clearly indicated by signage, you should assume that a bus lane cannot be used by motorbikes within the bus lane’s operating hours.
It’s a popular misconception that in London motorcyclists can use Red Routes, as indicated by single and double red lines at the roadside. As Transport for London’s website makes clear though, the rule doesn’t apply to all Red Routes, but just the majority. You still have to check the blue signs at every junction.
One thing that is worth remembering, yet so few car drivers especially seem to act on it, is that ALL vehicles can use a bus lane outside of its indicated operating hours.
So if the sign says 7am – 7pm, at 7.01pm you are free to use that probably empty lane, giving you way more safe space than filtering down the outside of stationary traffic. Do be watchful for vehicles turning across your path, though. Look for gaps in the traffic that may be letting a vehicle turn from the opposite carriageway and be especially vigilant for impatient or last-minute decision drivers who might seek to escape a jam by diving for a rat run, without indicating. One tip is to keep an eye on vehicle front wheels near left-hand turns – if they haven’t indicated, you might buy yourself some extra stopping time by spotting the turning wheel.
The confusion that some motorcyclists understandably go through, especially in London, means that it would be better to have a clearer national policy. There’s a petition you can sign, demanding that the Government at least debate the issue here on the .gov website. Sign up so we can get some clarity on the issue.
Get yourself sorted:
Stay out of a bus lane, even a Red Route, until you have seen a blue advisory sign that clearly indicates bikes are allowed to use it.