Granting motorcycle access to certain Bus Lanes in Northern Ireland started in 2004 with lobbying over several years from the local regions of, The British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK) and supported by local politicians.
Most Bus Lanes in Northern Ireland are available to buses, motorcycles, bicycles and Belfast public hire taxis.
At present a consultation on all taxis being allowed in those bus lanes where currently only ‘permitted’ hire taxis are allowed is taking place.
Bus Lanes are clearly marked with white lines and the associated signs which are on a blue background.
For motorcyclists there is a white motorcycle and rider outline on the blue signs which are information signs and rectangular.
Many more bus lanes are coming into operation over the next year or so, particularly in Belfast City Centre.
Permitted Motorcycle Use Of Bus Lanes
The best advice for motorcycle use of Bus Lanes is to observe the signs which should make it clear whether or not motorcycles are permitted to use the bus lanes.
The advice from Roads Service, specifically regarding the use of the hard shoulder bus ways on the M1 and M2, is that motorcycles are NOT permitted to use these hard shoulder bus ways.
These fall under the Motorway Regulations and it would be an endorsable offence to use a motorcycle unless it is for valid hard shoulder reasons, such as a breakdown.
Although there is no advice specific to Northern Ireland motorcyclists from GB the Traffic Advisory Leaflet 2/07 and the Code of Conduct are relevant and probably the best advice available.
Top Ten Tips
The first Top Ten Tip from the code of conduct says, “We share bus lanes with other vulnerable road users, take extra care around them Motorcyclists do not “own”the bus lane. We will be sharing it with other road users some of whom are as vulnerable, if not more so, as us. Interact with buses, taxis and cyclists in a courteous manner and treat them with the same respect as you would wish to be afforded to you.”
While the 2007 Plymouth City Council leaflet – Make sure you ride in bus lanes with caution – has advice for motorcyclists, cyclists, bus and taxi drivers
Blast From The Past 2004
“Ian Paisley Jr’s Democratic Unionist Party took on board the issue of bikers in bus lanes on behalf of riders rights groups. A keen biker and MAG member Mr Paisley comments, “In power we have delivered for bikers in Northern Ireland. In the Department for Regional Development Gregory Campbell and Peter Robinson MP supported to ensure that motorcycles were at long last given access to bus lanes. In the Assembly Sammy Wilson and myself have vigorously campaigned for the interests of Powered Two Wheelers.”