How Durham MAG got PTW’s in bus lanes

Following on from many MAG successes across the country, Durham MAG have also managed to get PTW’s in bus lanes. Below is a time line of what we did and who we contacted, with any luck it may help another MAG group along the way.

March 2012
Durham MAG decided to review the access rights of powered two wheel vehicles (PTW’s) in County Durham. We found there was no consistency from one bus lane to another. The situation was: Buses only lanes / Buses and cycles lanes / Buses, PTW’s and cycles lanes. A member of Durham MAG was “volunteered” to be the leader of this cause, and contact Durham County Council (DCC). The “volunteer” made initial contact with his local councillor, detailing the inconsistencies in the bus lanes, and asking for the contact details for the Chairperson of the Highways Committee.

April 2012
The local councillor replied with the contact details of the Chairperson of the Highways Committee, and requested further information on the subject. Durham MAG replied to the councillor and the chairperson, quoting data from, and referencing to, the studies conducted in Brussels and London, which had concluded that the use of PTW’s rather than cars would reduce journey times, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and smooth the traffic flow.
The councillor confirmed his general support for allowing PTW’s in bus lanes, and advised he would forward the data supplied to the councils highway officers.

May 2012
The Chairperson of the Highways Committee confirmed she would forward the data supplied to the councils highway officers. The highways officers responded, via the councillor, to Durham MAG, that the request to allow PTW’s in all bus lanes was not a priority, and no money was available to implement the changes.

At this time it looked that PTW’s in bus lanes was dead, but Durham MAG members continued to discuss this with councillors and planners on an informal verbal basis. This was made possible as DCC are planning major developments of houses and roads in the county.

April 2013
The local councillor advises Durham MAG, that a review of allowing PTW’s in bus lanes is again being discussed by the highways committee. He advises that interested persons contact DCC on the proposal.

May 2013
DCC have an email contact box, which is easy to complete. MAG North East blitzed the local MAG branches, motorcycle clubs, friends who are bikers, even BMF, showing them how to contact DCC, and asking everyone to email in supporting the use of bus lanes by PTW’s.

August 2013

Additional information supplied by Leon Mannings at MAG HQ forwarded to DCC.
Local councillor advises all data is being reviewed by the Highways Committee, however the bus companies have objected to the proposals. This is complicated by the fact that the Highways Committee are proposing that taxis and PTW’s can use bus lanes. Councillor advises that we need to liaise with the Public Transport Team Leader responsible for Traffic Management, and supplies his contact details.

Further communication was verbal on the telephone, between the MAG volunteer and the Public Transport Team Leader responsible for Traffic Management on a regular basis. Due to the bus companies objecting to the proposal, traffic flow plus health and safety surveys had to be conducted, and reports fed back to the Highways Committee.

March 2014
At last. Following the traffic surveys, plus the reviews by the Highways Committee and the council, the proposal to allow PTW’s (plus taxis and cycles) in County Durham’s bus lanes is approved. A programme is now being drawn up to change the signs, which is to be co-ordinated with grass cutting, to minimise traffic management requirements.

What can we learn from this exercise?

1. Try to get a local councillor on your side. Remain on friendly terms with him/her. He/she has all the contacts within the council.

2. Support all your arguements with facts. Have no emotional involvement, your personal loves and hates are irrelevant.

3. If you have a good case, have a co-ordinated blitz of the council with emails from local bike clubs, bikers and biker organisations. Emails are free!

4. Do not harass anyone within the council. They have loads of other interest groups contacting them, so things take time.

5. Don’t give up if first shrugged off. The situation in the council can change, such as DCC developing major plans for houses and roads.

5. All the contacts Durham MAG made within DCC were pleasant people, who seemed to be doing a difficult job to the best of their ability.