Motorcyclists can use Bus Lanes
In the UK riders have a very unique opportunity as motorcyclists can use bus lanes. This isn’t wide spread across the country but many bus lanes are open to motorcyclists, as well as cyclists, emergency vehicles and taxis.
It can make commuting much faster, much safer and more efficient. However, it’s important for motorcyclists to know when to use bus lanes and what dangers to be aware of when using them.
Check the sign posts
First and foremost, it’s important to note that not all bus lanes in the UK allow motorcycles. You should always look for blue square signage that indicates whether motorcycles are allowed in the bus lane or not.
These signs are usually located at the beginning of the bus lane and will have a picture of a motorcycle on them if motorcycles are permitted. If there is no sign, you should assume that motorcycles are not allowed in the bus lane.
If motorcycles are allowed in the bus lane, you can use them during the hours of operation specified on the signs. These hours may vary depending on the location and time of day, so it’s important to pay attention to the signs. If you’re unsure about whether you’re allowed to use a particular bus lane, it’s better to err on the side of caution and not use it.
Look out for potential dangers
When using a bus lane, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers. Buses may suddenly pull over to the side of the road to pick up or drop off passengers, sometimes they do not indicate their intention. This could cause other road users who are not paying attention to swerve or brake suddenly.
You should always maintain a safe distance from buses and be prepared for them to slow down or stop, especially when they are near bus stops where people are waiting. Other tell tale signs that they are going to pullover are when passengers are standing up and making their way to the door to get off. You may see this through the rear window.
It’s also important to be aware of cyclists who may also be using the bus lane. They might swerve suddenly around a bus that has pulled over. Cyclists also use the footpath and can change position from the path to the road very quickly. Their agility can catch you out as they cut through the traffic, you should be more vigilant in crowded areas.
Pedestrians can appear from nowhere
Another danger to be aware of is the potential for pedestrians to step into the bus lane. If they get off the bus and walk in front of it, they may not look behind the bus but instead they may be looking the other way. Riders should not accelerate to go past the bus as this would be more difficult to stop if they suddenly appear.
Pedestrians may not be used to looking out for motorcycles in the bus lane, so it’s important for you to stay alert and be prepared to take effective action. You should always ride with caution when in built up areas and when buses are stationary at bus stops.
It’s also important for motorcyclists to use proper lane positioning when using bus lanes. Stay in the middle of the bus lane and dominate the road space. Be aware of cyclists who may be undertaking and also swapping lanes from the normal lane into the bus lane. They use many different positions to cut through the traffic which is dangerous for them as other traffic does not always look out for them or expect their sudden appearance.
Use signals to change lanes
When a bus has pulled over to stop at a bus stop, it is legal to change lanes and overtake. Always use your indicators when changing lanes, and be prepared to merge back into traffic if necessary. The overtaking lane may be congested, so better forward vision is required if a bus is about to stop and you need to change lanes to overtake.
If the bus is stationary and you decide to filter between the stationary bus and the traffic in the right hand lane, do so with caution. Do not try to filter quickly and look in front of the bus to ensure there are no passengers who have got off and walking in front of the bus.
If you have moved to the right hand lane, once you clear the bus you should indicate your intention to move back to the left into the bus lane. Make sure you carry out a lifesaver prior to changing position.
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Check with local authority
It’s important to be aware of the rules and regulations surrounding the use of bus lanes where you live or where you might be travelling. Some local councils have specific rules about the use of bus lanes, so it’s important to check with them to ensure that you’re following the rules.
Failing to adhere to the rules and regulations may result in a fine. Many bus lanes have cameras set up at regular intervals to catch out road users who are not concentrating or are ignoring the rules. Fines vary from one council to another.
Other factors riders should consider
Bus lanes are often located on busy roads with heavy traffic, so it’s important to stay focused and be prepared for sudden changes in what could be considered as normal traffic patterns.
It’s also worth noting that using bus lanes does not mean that motorcyclists can ride at excessive speeds or ignore traffic laws. Just because the lane has less traffic does not mean you can ride quickly to make progress. You should still follow all traffic laws, such as speed limits and traffic signals, when using bus lanes.
Riding too fast in bus lanes and congested areas not only leads to accidents but can also result in fines and penalties. You should be courteous to other road users when using bus lanes. This means not weaving in and out of traffic or passing other vehicles too closely. This may antagonise other road users and cause road rage.
What to be aware of when passing buses
You should be aware of the risk of other vehicles suddenly emerging from in front of stationary buses. Other drivers may be attempting to overtake the stationary bus or turning onto the road from a side street or driveway. This can create blind spots and increase the risk of incidents, so riders should approach and pass stationary buses with caution and be prepared to stop if necessary.
Finally, you should also be aware of the possibility of buses suddenly pulling away from the kerb. Bus drivers may start to pull away without looking or warning, which can catch you off guard. To avoid this risk, it’s best to stay well clear of stationary buses until it’s clear that they are not about to move.
By being aware of these potential hazards and taking appropriate precautions, riders can safely navigate past stationary buses and avoid any potential accidents.
The use of bus lanes can be a great advantage for motorcyclists in the UK, but it’s important to use them safely and be aware of the potential dangers.
Always check the blue bus signs to ensure you are allowed in the bus lane. Stay alert for buses, cyclists, and pedestrians, and use the correct lane positioning for your safety. By following these tips, you can make your commute safer and more efficient while staying safe on the road.
By being considerate and following the rules of the road, you have a hand in ensuring riders can continue to use bus lanes and enjoy the benefits they provide.