Can Bikes Use Bus Lanes in the UK? (CYCLING LAW EXPLAINED)

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Bikes are often permitted to use both with-flow and contra-flow bus lanes (which you can usually find on one-way streets). If you’re confused as to whether bikes are allowed, The Highway Code advises cyclists to only use bus lanes when you’re certain you can see the circle symbol. 

Separating bikes from cars and heavy lorries is frequently cited as an effective solution to cycling casualties, the further from other vehicles you are the better.

Road traffic estimates published by the Department for Transport indicate that cycling has become increasingly popular since the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, improving the safety and efficiency of cycling in the UK is important now more than ever. 

Shared bus lanes can kill two birds with one stone – by separating your bike from the main flow of traffic, you’re not only safer but can also travel faster. 

Can Cyclists Use a Bus Lane in the UK?

Cyclists are normally permitted to cycle in bus lanes in the UK. If a blue bus lane sign also features a picture of a bicycle, cycling is permitted in the lane (see example below). However, if no bicycle icon is featured, then cycling may not be permitted in the bus lane.

EXAMPLE: Bus Lane Sign that also permits cycling [SOURCE: GOV.UK]

Bus lanes offer cyclists a safer and quicker alternative to riding amongst heavy traffic, and luckily, the majority of bus lanes across the UK permit bike usage. Simply check the lane’s accompanying road sign to determine whether it’s marked for bikes. 

As a general rule of thumb, the wider the bus lane the better. Ensure you position yourself in the middle of the lane, as to increase visibility and thus ensure your safety. 

Bus lanes are a common feature of the UK’s infrastructure, helping to reduce traffic congestion in densely populated cities. Cyclists usually search for the quickest and safest route, so unsurprisingly bus lanes are often seen as the most viable option.

For a quicker and more efficient way of planning your journey, take advantage of Google Maps’ route planning capabilities.

Are Bicycles Allowed in Bus Lanes in London?

Cyclists can use most bus lanes in London. If the bus lane sign also features an picture of a bicycle, then cyclists can also use the lane.

London is host to a busy network of cycling commuters, and the importance of bus lanes to cyclists has not gone unnoticed. Cyclists can use most bus lanes in London already, yet, the city is still striving for improvement. 

As of 2021, The Mayor of London in collaboration with Transport for London (TfL) are expanding the city’s cycling infrastructure. Bikes are sometimes at risk of collision in bus lanes in a limited space; by making them wider, cyclists can have a quick journey while at the same time staying safe (link). 

Bus lanes are more important for cyclists in London than any other city in the UK. By avoiding the main flow of traffic you’ll enjoy a significantly easier journey.

What Vehicles Can Use a Bus Lane?

Bus lanes vary on which vehicles they will allow. Taxis, motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, tricycles and bicycles may use bus lanes if specifically indicated on the sign. Lanes reserved entirely for the local bus service will be accompanied by a sign displaying the word ‘local’. 

Using an unauthorised vehicle within a bus lane will not only result in a fine, but also endanger your safety and others. Outside the hours of operation however (details of which you can find on the sign), any vehicle can freely use bus lanes. 

As cycling becomes an increasingly popular hobby and means of navigation, it’s vital to understand the laws of bus lane usage – always check the permitted vehicles before taking advantage of the benefits bus lanes have to offer.

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