Tuesday, May 16, 2006

London Bus Lanes - Bikes, Taxis, & Busses

Making bus lanes available to busses and cyclists is a good choice. For the transport bods in a meeting-room somewhere, it's a cheap decision; because it saves them having to genuinely think about designing a new and functional cycle path nearby. But there are other points to consider...


At their best, bus lanes are superb when they're empty, often providing a safer cycling position to filter past traffic jams, gridlocked outside of the bus-lane.

I have a few thoughts on general bus-lane policy... Why aren't motorbikes allowed in bus lanes? There's enough room for a bicycle and motorbike to ride in a pair up a bus lane. As long as the speed ridden is a low filtering speed, I don't have a problem sharing with motorbikes. It would surely be better for motorbikers, rather than doing the wing-mirror limbo!

Ethical Hierarchy

Because busses carry groups of people, they are high up the ethical hierarchy, in terms of pollution generated per passenger, road space required per passenger, and to some extent - social interaction. (Contrast with isolated, single passenger, high emission cars, taking up roughly 10 square meters each!)

So it is quite deserving that busses get their own lanes to circumvent traffic delays caused by overcrowding of other vehicles. Allowing this mode of public transport to enjoy more regular and efficient journeys.


But why should taxis benefit from bus lanes? Let's investigate:

  • Advantageous emissions per passenger ratio?
    Nope. The TX1 (New black cab) carries a massive 2.7 litre Nissan engine! and often only 1 or 2 passengers.

  • Road space per passenger economies?
    Nope. Just as big as (or bigger than) most cars.

  • Social interaction, potential to chat with other road users?
    Nope. As a car - isolated & fenced-off from society.

  • Cheap travel, accessible to all?
    Definitely not. Averaging £1.50 per mile, plus tips, one-way journeys can easily exceed £20. Wealthy passengers are not only paying for the taxi's running costs, but the driver's wages, and profit as well.

Having established taxis don't contribute any wider benefit, as bicycles and busses do, taxis introduce their own problems as well:

  • Stopping to pick up & drop off, in bus lanes, causing bus passengers behind to stop.
  • The concept of a clear bus lane, to achieve reliable bus journey times, is made redundant if the bus lane is congested with taxis.


So in summary: Busses good, cycles better. Taxis out of the bus lane, and motorbikes in.

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