Some cities debate about letting 2-wheel wehicles (bicycles or motorcycles) enter bus lanes. Why should (or not) we let them enter? When it is ok to let them use bus lanes? What factors should be taken into account? What kind of evaluation should be made?

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    You have a lot of questions in this post, and they are likely to have different answers based on city/country/era etc. So I think this question is too broad in its current form. Can you narrow it down to one specific question?
    – Rory Alsop
    Jan 23, 2017 at 11:00
  • @RoryAlsop edited, clarified
    – krzyski
    Jan 23, 2017 at 11:42
  • Think about it from the point of view of congestion, and which vehicles have the greatest impact. Then look for reasons why they shouldn't be allowed. Buses in many bus lanes don't go much faster than a typical cyclist anyway - or not for long - because of the bus stops. Bus rapid transit is a counter example.
    – Chris H
    Jan 23, 2017 at 12:38
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    The real question is "why are buses allowed in bus lanes". Some cities in the UK found that a moratorium on bus lanes decreased journey times - including for buses! The congestion caused by denying space to cars more than cancelled the "advantage" for the buses. As if that isn't bad enough, a common sight in Bristol is a bus jammed between a car on one side and a tree on the other, unable to move in its bus lane, with a crowd of fuming two wheelers (and maybe a taxi) stuck stationary behind it! #banbusesfrombuslanes! Jan 23, 2017 at 15:33

1 Answer 1


This is not a definitive answer, but it's too long for a comment.

The primary purpose of bus lanes is to allow buses to move (more) quickly through peak hour traffic congestion. A bus carrying 50 people is using about the same road space as 3 cars when moving.

It's also a political statement to car users: take the bus to get there quicker.

If we allow other vehicles to use the bus lane then

  1. The other vehicles must not slow the buses down.
  2. The other vehicles must also make more efficient use of road space than cars.
  3. And the message should be consistent.

In a traffic mix where motorcycles are less than about 3% of the traffic they will probably not impede the buses, by my guestimates. Another solution is to allow the motorcycles to filter through stationary traffic.

In a location where the buses average 20 kph then cyclists are not likely to delay buses unless there are many more cyclists than buses. This case would be rare, but possibly occurs in a few places in Western Europe. In these locations there would be no benefit in mixing cyclists and buses.

More common is the case where the buses average 40 kph and cyclists are rare enough that the buses can pass in reasonable safety. In this situation mixing cyclists and buses makes sense in policy terms, because the three principles mentioned above are supported. In practice the bus drivers need training to mix safely and consistently with bicycle traffic.

So it's about the relative frequencies of the vehicles in the traffic mix, and their relative speeds.

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    More simply, they are no longer bus lanes. They are "lanes for vehicles which usefully cut journey times and congestion (and buses too, because politics)". Jan 23, 2017 at 15:35
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    In my city I've noticed that problems start once busses can no longer safely pass cyclists because of congestion in the other lanes. Then busses and cyclists end up both slowing each other down because of their different movement patterns. In those cases it may/may not still be faster than operating in mixed traffic, depending on how well cars actually respect the separation and the rate car traffic is moving.
    – Jamie A
    Jan 23, 2017 at 15:39
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    This is a good answer. Am I the only one thinking how dangerous it is to mix the bigger and smaller urban vehicles (bicycles and buses) in the same lane? Jan 23, 2017 at 17:03
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    @Paulo I think every cyclist agrees with you.
    – andy256
    Jan 23, 2017 at 21:11
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    @ChrisH Here in São Paulo (where massive traffic jams of more than 50km are very common in the peak hours), taxis are allowed to use the bus lane when carrying passengers. They are very annoying because they keep changing between the regular lanes and the bus lane and some do so very aggressively. Add motorcycles passing between lanes and you have this: average 2 dead motorcyclists daily (dead on the spot, not counting the ones deceased in hospital 1 week later). Madness. Jan 25, 2017 at 19:08

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