DfT Issues Weirdly Sensible Advice on Motorcycle Bus Lane Use

The advice from the DfT lays out the pros and cons of motorcycles using bus lanes, and for once they seem to get it right!

Motorcycle in a bus lane

Nipping into a bus lane on a motorcycle is one of those little perks, along with filtering, that makes riding a motorcycle through a city a slightly more pleasurable experience. 

The trouble is that different councils have different rules on motorcycle bus lane use, and in many cases even in the same city and council area, the rules around bus lane use can change in a matter of miles causing confusion, safety concerns, and in some cases fines for riders who have been caught out.

The DfT (Department for Transport) is now offering councils advice on how to improve this situation, for us the bikers, other road users, and those driving the buses.

For once, and this is a fairly rare occurrence, the advice seems to be fairly well-balanced and even takes into account the many benefits that come from allowing motorbikes to share lanes with buses, cyclists, and taxis.

The first point raised by the DfT is one that we can definitely get behind, and it relates to having appropriate signage relating to whether bikes can share the lanes. The current guidelines haven’t been updated since 2007, but the latest ones advise that councils should allow motorcyclists (solo-powered two-wheelers including mopeds) to use bus lanes “wherever it is appropriate to do so”.

The guidance then lays out the pros and cons of motorcycle bus lane use, and again, it’s all fairly sensible stuff:


DfT advice on motorcycles bus lane use

  • Safety implications involved in restricting motorcyclists to general traffic lanes, against the possible problems of allowing motorcyclists into the bus lane

  • Effect on other vulnerable road users, especially pedestrians and cyclists

  • Possible impact on bus journey time reliability due to additional traffic in the bus lane

  • Reduction in congestion for other traffic on routes currently used by motorcyclists

  • Potential for motorcycling to become a genuine choice for road users if it is seen as a more convenient means of transport

  • Potential for overall improvements in transport efficiency

  • Local publicity to help advise road users of a policy change

The final point the DfT raises, and again, it’s fairly level-headed, is that intermittent motorcycle use of bus lanes can be confusing and cause “enforcement difficulties,” even going on to say that more continuity around bus lane sharing could be a positive move.

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