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bikers use bus lanes in Northern ireland  

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."


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