Should motorcycles be allowed in bus lanes? Department for Transport considers allowing UK-wide access

Motorcyclists riding alongside empty bus lane
Motorcyclists riding alongside empty bus lane

The Government is considering a ground breaking proposal to permit motorcycles in bus lanes by default across the country.  

The initiative aims to capitalise on the inherent congestion busting agility and space-saving nature bikes offer. If initiated, the policy expects to improve journey times for bikers, safeguard riders from the dangers of other traffic, reduce congestion and provide greater clarity and consistency for road users, especially in urban areas where bus lanes cross local authority borders.  

Guy Opperman, Minister for Roads and Local Transport said: “Motorcycles are an important but sometimes overlooked mode of transport, not just by drivers who fail to spot bikers, but occasionally by government too. Their size and nature make them a dynamic and affordable option for road users, and with that it’s only right that our roads become as dynamic as those using them”.  

The proposal comes as part of a two-stage commitment specifically aimed at making it easier for motorcyclists to access bus lanes. This plan was outlines first in the ‘Plan for Drivers’, published 2 October 2023.

Motorcyclist at junction followed by bus

 Initial measures towards this came via an updated traffic advisory leaflet published on January 15 2024, in which, the Department for Transport (DfT) recommended that: “Wherever it is appropriate, local councils should allow motorcyclists to use bus lanes”.   

Now though, a consultation is now under way to determine whether or not to make this the default position. Across much of the country, motorcyclists have enjoyed bus lane access for some time. On a national scale however, access is neither universal nor consistent. 

“Amending this could lead to many positive benefits including shorter journey times for those on motorcycles and less congestion for motorists in normal lanes, all while potentially having little impact on bus journeys,” Minister Opperman continued. “The department has historically been neutral, leaving it to local authorities to decide if this is something they wish to adopt, as set out in the original advice published in 2007.”  

Motorcyclists behind bus in bus lane

Industry bodies including IAM Roadsmart have repeatedly called on the Government to expand motorcycle access in bus lanes to reduce congestion and emissions, with these recommendations dating back almost a decade.  

Tony Campbell, MCIA CEO said: “We are very pleased to see the Government finally consult on bus lane access for Motorcycles and other Powered Two Wheelers, for many years riders have been unsure as to whether they are allowed in Bus Lanes especially in London where the policy differs from one local authority to another.  

“We understand Government want to take a far more prescriptive national approach where City and Local Authorities will be obliged to grant access for riders. This consultation has been a result of excellent lobby work by the Rider Groups and MCIA. We encourage riders to respond to this consultation taking full advantage of this opportunity”.  

To have your say on the matter, visit before consultation closes on June 9 2024.