A trial of motorcyclists using bus lanes should be introduced in Melbourne “to improve motorcycle safety and allow more efficient traffic movement”, says Shadow Minister for Roads and Infrastructure, David Hodgett.
Riders can only legally ride in bus lanes in NSW and the ACT in Australia. In most states, only bicycles, taxis, limousines and emergency vehicles can use these lanes.
However, in several major cities around the world, including London, riders are allowed to use bus lanes.
Ahead of tomorrow’s state election, Hodgett says Melbourne’s population growth is “putting enormous stress on roads and traffic congestion and that negatively impacts everyone’s quality of life”.
Under the Liberal Nationals’ trial, motorcycles would initially be permitted access to south-bound bus lanes along Hoddle St between Victoria Parade and the Eastern Freeway and on the inbound bus lane of the Eastern Freeway.
Hodgett says they would add more routes in future.
Bus lanes trials
The plan follows a six-month VicRoads trial in 2011 where riders were permitted to use bus lanes on Hoddle Street during peak periods.
A report is now more than seven years overdue and riders are still not allowed in bus lanes.
Western Australia also ran a one-year trial for motorbikes and taxis in bus lanes from March 2015. The trial was extended to include Fitzgerald St bus lane up to October 2017.
Similarly, no report has been released except to say that there were a few minor crashes.
If there are concerns about safety, why are cyclists allowed to use these lanes in most states?
Surely cyclists are far more vulnerable because of the speed differential with motorised transport and their smaller profile on the road.
Allowing motorcycles and scooters to use bus lanes is not just another free kick for riders.
Like lane filtering, it would free up the rest of the road for other traffic, so it should be supported by all motorists.
And motorcycles would not hold up buses as would slow-moving cyclists who are allowed to use them.
The option of using a bus lane would give lane-filtering riders an alternative to the sometimes dangerously small gaps between lanes of traffic.
Cities that allow riders to use bus lanes
Motorcyclists have been allowed to use bus lanes in London, Bristol, Belfast and the Netherlands for many years. Aberdeen in Scotland is now trialling their use.
Many other cities are not included simply because they do not have bus lanes.
In 2016, Tel Aviv opened its bus lanes to riders after a six-month trial. It showed that motorcycles, buses and taxis can coexist in the same lane.
“Under all circumstances examined, including at corners and next to bus stops, the new arrangements did not substantially change or aggravate the ‘conflict’ between two-wheeled vehicles and other vehicles. All potential conflicts were resolved without incident,” the report said.
Israel is now rolling it out throughout the country.