Motorcyclists across Northern Ireland were jubilant
at the announcement in the press this month that bikers in the province
would be legally allowed to ride in Bus lanes from March 22nd 2004.
The announcement was embraced by the motorcyclists and riders groups
who have campaigned endlessly for access to bus lanes since 1996.
The Northern Ireland Motorcycle Action Group welcomed the statement
from Alan Keys of the local Roads Division, which will see bikers
granted access to numerous bus lanes for an experimental period
of 18 months. Northern Ireland Regional MAG Rep, Barry Barr comments,
"For a long period of years MAG has been involved in the campaign
to give riders this accessibility and freedom in our towns and cities.
There are over 100,000 motorcyclists in the province, many of which
will benefit from the ability to ride their bikes in selected bus
lanes. We would urge bikers to respect the concession made by the
Roads Division and benefit from it where possible. It is important
that we are not seen to be abusing our new right to ride and as
ever ride with caution and respect to other road users."
Three years ago 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. But there
are other issues which the Motorcycle Action Group is campaigning
for which the DUP intends to deliver on, such as ensuring resources
for the continuation of Road Racing in Ulster and backing inspirational
groups such as MAG 100% on the issue of secure motorcycle parking."
The government's objective is to make the most efficient use of
road space and to encourage other modes of transport, those more
environmentally friendly than the car. The project is however experimental
and the behaviour of motorcyclists and scooter riders alike will
be monitored in bus lanes over the next year and a half. A decision
will then be made to whether or not bus lanes are made available
to bikers on a permanent basis.
NI Rep Barry Barr concludes, "Other major cities in the UK
have granted access to bus lanes for many years such as the successful
scheme operated in Bristol. There are many other pilot projects
in operation throughout the UK and it is up to motorcyclists to
react sensibly to ensure that the trial operations become permanent."