Thursday, 12 July 2012


Bicycles have been permitted to travel in some bus lanes in Victoria for some time. Even in 70 kph zones, in hilly suburbs like Doncaster bicyclists are permitted to ride in bus lanes during peak period traffic. VicRoads did no trials or surveys on pushbikes in bus lanes, they just wrote the regulation. 

The Sunday Herald Sun published an article on bicycles in traffic on July 8, 2012. It was headed. WAR ON ROADS CAN ONLY GET WORSE. Bicycle Network Victoria says the number of bicycle commuters to Melbourne's CBD increases by 20% each year. Transport Accident Commission (TAC) road safety manager Samantha Cockfield made an interesting point. She said. 

"... the growth meant that motorists and cyclists needed to learn to share the road safely. She said the proliferation of clearly defined bike lanes would help to keep heads cool. If we're not expecting cars to get stuck behind cyclists going 30 km/h in a 60 km/h zone ... we're not going to have the angst build up. ..."  

That makes more sense than VicRoads permitting pushbikes, that probably do a lot less than 30 km/h up hill, to travel in bus lanes and hold up 50 commuters taking public transport to work. Then there's the risk to consider. What if a bicyclist drops their bike at 30 km/h in front of a bus? What happens to the passengers when the driver slams on the brakes?

Anyway, it seemed to the Independent Riders' Group, that it made sense to permit motorcycle & scooter riders to travel in bus lanes. It's been called for before by responsible organisations because it helps traffic flow, powered two-wheelers can keep up even in 100 km/h zones and it's safer. Anywhere a bike is away from cars it's safer. Obvious. But not to VicRoads. A trial permitting motorcycles & scooters to use the bus lane on Hoddle Street, between the Eastern Freeway and Victoria Parade/Street began in November 2011.

Motorcycles & scooters are permitted to use bus lanes in NSW and elsewhere.

The Hoddle Street trial may not be your idea of a well-thought-out project. The bus lane on the Eastern Freeway was excluded making the Hoddle Street bus lane difficult to get into. This bus lane is short, straight and flat, hardly representative. 

One of the reasons to commuting on two wheels is to save time. This trial does not allow riders to turn right towards the city with the buses but requires a left-hander into crowded Victoria Street. Time saved in the 1.6 km bus lane is lost making the left hand turn. Some riders merge back into the sea of single-occupant cars before that intersection.

A rider seeks to avoid the left turn into chaos by merging right out of the  Hoddle Street  bus lane.
The trial is welcome though, even if the bicycle community did not have to jump through the  hoops we do. Some say this trial was set up to fail. We'll see. It was supposed to be done by June but the IRG has been told that "data and feedback" collected in the Hoddle Street trial is being analysed and the trial will continue until "a policy decision" has been made.

A policy decision? Why does that make me feel uncomfortable? VicRoads' policy to discourage people from riding motorcycles or scooters was real 20 years ago and probably still is. The Age. July 15, 2011. By Ian Munro.

"... As a state parliamentary inquiry uncovered almost 20 years ago, the state roads, licensing and registration authority, VicRoads, had a policy of 'not implementing any programs that could be construed as encouraging motorcycling'. Having decided that motorcycling was inherently risky, Vicroads thought it best to do nothing to make it safer in case this encouraged more people to take it up. VicRoads has formally abandoned the policy, but in the licensing system its'legacy seemingly lingers. ..."

If VicRoads makes a policy decision to ban motorcycles & scooters from all Victorian bus lanes, it will be interesting to see what spin they use to justify allowing bicyclists to continue to use bus lanes. 

Damien Codognotto OAM
IRG 1 


  1. Hi, Damien. Unfortunately I had to skim through this article but I got the idea. As a bus driver it's something I'm pretty passionate about.

    During my 8 months purely doing city runs I can tell you that cyclists and taxis are the most dangerous things to buses and bus patrons in the city.

    The thing that holds us up most, however is cyclists. Now legally they have a right to hold up 108 people in an articulated bus (every day both in an out of the city my artic was always full) and so be it. They're doing what's best for them by slowing us down to 10-20 kph heading northbound on lonsdale street.

    Now while the cyclist matter is something I have many, many words for what I will tell you is that there is absolutely no way that a motorcycle could severely influence a bus in a negative manner. Cyclists take off slow and sometimes get to the designated road speed but as we all know motorcycles safely accelerate faster than most car drivers and usually remain at the speed limit in congested areas.

    So from a bus driver: Let motorcycles in the bus lanes of heavily congested areas. It'll save time for everyone and most importantly it will significantly reduce the chance of injuries to the riders themselves.

  2. Thanks for your comment. It really helps us to know what bus drivers feel about other vehicles using bus lanes. VicRoads was to end this trial in June 2012 but have now left it open-ended, until a "policy decision is made". It makes sense to them. Thanks again.

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