Kirkstall Road: Bus lanes could be used by motorbikes in trial

A65 Kirkstall Road. Photo: Google

Views are being sought on a proposed trial which would see motorcycles using bus lanes on the A65.

The council trial would include all bus lanes from Abbey Road through to the city centre, both inbound and outbound.

The trial supports the council’s goal of ‘vison zero’, achieving no people killed or seriously injured on Leeds roads by 2040. Motorcyclists are categorised as vulnerable road users as the rate of motorcyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI) is far in excess of any other road user.

In Leeds, motorcycling currently has a modal share of 0.3% (2019) but despite this in 2019 motorcyclists accounted for a highly disproportionate 19% of KSI collisions. This is particularly acute for younger motorcyclists, for instance 16 year olds who are restricted to riding 50cc mopeds limited to a maximum of 28mph.

Kirkstall councillor Hannah Bithell (Lab) is encouraging people to e-mail her with comments over the proposed trial. She posted on social media:

“Allowing such particularly vulnerable road users to safely avoid mixing with often very busy general traffic in Kirkstall and without negatively impacting on other road users is a primary aim of the trial.”

It’s hoped the trial will encourage more people to leave their cars at home. Cllr Bithell added:

“In Leeds we’re moving towards a lower carbon future by aiming to achieve net zero carbon by 2030. Reducing the carbon and congestion impact of single occupancy cars is critical.

“By encouraging motorcycles, which emit less than half the carbon of private cars, we can improve air quality, fight climate change and reduce congestion in Kirkstall.

“your feedback and input is important to ensure proper consideration can be given to the impact on Kirkstall. The good news about the trial if it went ahead is that, unlike most traffic schemes, it is unlikely to involve road works, closures or changes to existing layouts, but simply amendments to signage, accompanied by the appropriate legal order and promotion.”

A Leeds City Council scrutiny board meeting in September 2019 approved a phased introduction of motorcycle access to bus lanes where possible, by setting up a time-limited trial at the site deemed most suitable.

The A65 was chosen in consultation with Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), primarily because the it has the widest bus lanes in Leeds, allowing the safest mixing of pedal cycles, hackney carriages, motorcycles and buses.

This trial would last a minimum of 12 months.

Comments on the proposed trial can be e-mailed at


  1. As a Council Minibus Driver, I use bus lanes but try not to when traffic is flowing. Some vehicles do use these lanes regardless of flow because they have to (busses that need to stop for passengers).
    We don’t want to turn these bus-lanes into rat runs allowing fast, nippy vehicles to race the few cars infront of them by triggering the priority traffic lights. I welcome motorbikes because they can match the speed of other vehicles without obstructing or causing nuisance. However, the more motorised vehicles that use these lanes the more these vehicles will trigger the priority traffic lights shortly after they’ve change back to green for the main carriageway, causing long tailbacks.
    Many people don’t understand when busses and taxis enter a bus lane they can’t just decide to jump back over the solid white line or visa-versa. It would be concerning if vulnerable road users begin to cut in and out of the bus lane. There would be no disincentive unless there was a Police car behind them (and what would be the odds of that happening).
    I worry that more traffic using bus lanes will find it challenging not to jump the white lines whenever it suits (when busses need to stop for example). We need to remember that we live in the real world and not the ideal world. Motorbikes swerve and nip in and out and slower push-bikes swerve around pot-holes and deliberately restrict vehicles from passing or sharing the bus lane (as I and colleagues have experiences from Horsforth to Leeds centre). The more we risk the lives of vulnerable road users the more likely a very serious accident will occur one day.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.