While riders have been safely using bus lanes in NSW, the ACT and several major cities around the world for several years, Victoria is still in a protracted trial phase and other states lag even further behind.
In February, the Victorian Government announced that riders could use more bus lanes in Melbourne for the next five years, then stalled … until now.
The new trial sites from 24 July are:
- emergency lane and bus lane along the Eastern Freeway (citybound side of the freeway) between the Chandler Highway and Hoddle Street
- bus lane on Victoria Parade (citybound) between Hoddle Street and Nicholson Street
- Hoddle Street and Victoria Parade intersection
The eastbound bus lane on Victoria Parade will be included in the trial and announced soon.
In June, Victoria permanently allowed riders to use made the Hoddle Street bus lane (southbound) between Eastern Freeway and Victoria Parade.
Bus lane conundrum
Cyclists have been allowed to use bus lanes for years in several states without a trial and about 20 years ago motorcyclists were allowed to use NSW and ACT bus lanes.
They are also allowed to use them in cities such as London and Tel Aviv.
Yet, for some arcane reason, Australia lags behind.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense that cyclists are allowed to use bus lanes when they are much slower than buses, less visible and much more vulnerable than motorcyclists.
Back in February Victorian Motorcycle Council media spokesman John Eacott said they battled three years to get the trial extended.
“I fronted one of the senior VicRoads guys at the Minister’s Motorcycle Expert Advisory Panel after he said they were unsafe,” John said.
“I tackled him about using statistics from outside the bus lane times and he was sent away to do further research.
“At least we’ve now got this.”
However, John was concerned that the trial was being funded by the Motorcycle Safety Levy to which the VMC has long objected.
“No other section of the road-using public has to fund their own safety. It’s appalling,” he says.
As part of the Victorian bus lane trial, the following “safety treatments” will be included:
- ‘watch for motorcycles in bus lane’ warning signs;
- motorcycle protection rails on guard rail;
- road surface repairs to the bus lanes; and
- signage to allow motorcyclists to use the bus hook turn from Hoddle Street on to Victoria Parade.
VicRoads will monitor and evaluate the trial sites over the next five years.
For more information refer to the VicRoads Use of Bus Lanes by Other Modes Policy.
Bus lane rules around the country
- New South Wales: motorcycles, bicycles, taxis, public hire cars, emergency services vehicles and, of course, buses are permitted in bus lanes, unless they are marked as ‘bus only’;
- Queensland: bus lanes are for the use of buses, bicycles, taxis, limousines and emergency vehicles;
- South Australia: buses and emergency vehicles can use bus lanes, while bicycles and taxis are also allowed into bus lanes during the times marked on the signs;
- Tasmania: bus lanes are reserved for buses and service vehicles, as well as taxi drivers who are picking up and dropping off passengers. Other vehicles can only use the bus lanes if signs permit;
- Victoria: bus lanes are for buses, emergency vehicles and taxi drop-off/pick-up only, unless otherwise marked. See the details above for bus lane trials;
- Western Australia: bus lanes and busways are open only to buses and emergency vehicles unless otherwise marked. A trial was undertaken to allow motorbikes and taxis into the bus lanes on two major Perth roads, but no further information has been released about its success or next steps.