Can Bikes Use Bus Lanes?

Cyclists riding in high-traffic areas with no bicycle lanes can find bus lanes too safe to travel.

But some local laws may restrict riding on bus lanes marked “Bus Only.”

The route does not allow the cyclist to ride side by side. 

You can ride bikes on bus lanes with signs or roads marked "Bus and Bikes Only." Each cyclist should consider the risk and exercise good judgment on whether it is safe to proceed.
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Man riding a bike on Highway (Source: Pixabay.com)

However, some towns and roads may not always have bus and bicycle signs; perhaps only buses travel on them.

This system puts the cyclist in a humid condition and puts them at risk of being forced to walk on an unsafe route.

There will be bus lanes dedicated to allowing buses to get in and out and pick up passengers. In the absence of buses, bus lanes become attractive places for everyone else, drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

After all, it is a large area set aside for general traffic and busy only when buses enter; otherwise, it is a quiet place to ride.

However, the legality of riding on the bus lanes is another matter that has caused controversy in various lands, such as Canada.

Can Cyclists Ride on the Bus Lanes?

In many urban areas, cyclists and motorists constantly struggle to find their way on the road.

The cyclist must take precautionary measures and use the bus lanes if permitted when riding over another route puts them at risk.

Some lanes marked as “Buses Only” take up lanes that generally would be safe for cyclists to ride along.

Furthermore, in these cases, the cyclist may have the option of riding on the heavy road to their left.

It is not always the case, but areas, where buses and taxis are only allowed on the same lane, make it difficult for cyclists to take the route.

Most cyclists will take the safest route to avoid being hit by a bus or other vehicle.

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Rider on a Intersection (Source: Pixabay.com)
The safest route for riding a bike would be to take the left lane and take the center of the lane to pass safely. Of course, cars traveling that way may not like it, but you may not have a choice.

I know places like San Francisco, LA, that have many red lines marked for specific vehicles. Such lanes make it more disruptive for a cyclist to pass safely.

Why the Bus Lane?

There are a few benefits for cyclists who have relatively more experience in boarding in the bus lane.

Moreover, Bus lanes tend to be friendly and wide, very flat, and, of course, there is a lot less traffic you can compete with while on the road.

In particular, hectic roads such as highways can be hazardous to ride on even when using a bicycle lane, so the bus lane provides additional protection from other road vehicles.

The bus lane can also be easy to get on, and as there is no continuous overcrowding. Therefore, cyclists need not worry too much about competition.

On the other hand, bus lanes have a few of their drawbacks too.

Riding alone is often better for people who have a lot of knowledge about cycling and the ones who can pay close attention to their surroundings and respond quickly.

In addition, buses are much larger and heavier than cars and therefore represent a much greater risk.

Buses and bicycles also have a problem with co-existing to bus lanes because the cyclist will continue to move while the bus has to stop, and the bus passes the cyclist and stops again, leading some to call it a ‘leap-frog situation.’

If there were too many cyclists on the bus lane, the bus system would stop working correctly because the cyclists would block the lanes.

Based on some of my studies, I suggest that riding in a bus lane is not safer than riding on roads with no bus lanes as safety falls right on the rider’s shoulders.

Should a Cyclist Ride Against Traffic?

I understand that riding on the road can be dangerous, sometimes leading to others riding against the traffic.

In many states and local cities, bicycles are considered vehicles, and it is illegal to ride on the road. It is even more dangerous to ride against traffic if this is unexpected in many places, leading to many accidents.

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How often do you Ride a Bike at Night? (Source: Pixabay.com)

I will never forget the day I decided to ride against traffic, even though I knew it was wrong. I was crossing a very steep road junction that turned into a 3-Way traffic highway.

Many cyclists were in danger of having an accident going with traffic at this intersection, so deciding to stay on the road seemed safe.

Before I could recognize it, another cyclist came flying toward me, shouting, “You’re going the wrong way!”, “Please pass on the other side of the road fast!”.

However, some beginner cyclists may believe that the cars will see you more if you are going against the traffic.

The fact is that the car’s driver only looks at the oncoming traffic. So if you come against it, they probably won’t be able to see you.

Therefore, people in cars should look both ways and look for pedestrians coming towards them. But the driver would not expect someone to come from the wrong direction.

When you ride on the road, you may not see road signs.

Riding at night can be very dangerous. When you ride against traffic, this will confuse the driver of another vehicle.

Automobile with glowing headlights on road near illuminated traffic light at foggy night
Traffic Lights at Night (Source: Pexels.com)

The safest route you can take may not always be ride with the flow of traffic. But it is also where you will need to exercise sound judgment and do the safest thing for yourself.

There are different Traffic Laws a cyclist should strictly follow.

Things to keep in mind before Riding on a Bus Lane

For many cyclists, it is easy to gnash their teeth and head for the bus lane. After all, it will not always be full of buses and will never packed. So chances are you have a safe time with it.

If you are going to use the bus lane, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always make sure you know about the traffic around you, especially any buses coming from behind. As Cyclists have run under the buses before, and the results are shocking and deadly. Don’t delay in the bus lane: get in and out again as soon as possible.
  • Unless there are any other signs, technically, cyclists do not have the right to be on the bus route. So always allow buses or any other traffic allowed to be there.
  • Beware of pedestrians who may also be using the bus lane.
  • Think of bus lanes only if you are an experienced cyclist who can respond quickly to traffic and make quick decisions.

Now, if you are not going to use the bus lane, it’s essential to stick to your bike lane.

Conclusion

The use of bus lanes by cyclists is not exactly an issue. However, it is a very grey area because the law is very quiet in it. If you have a shared route, then you know it is clear. 

But as noted, they are not very common in the U.S. Here is another article on “Is Helmet mandatory for bikes in the US?” if you are interested in it.

This means that using the bus lane falls to the cyclist to decide. The cyclist should be looking after himself to ensure that there will be no collisions with the buses.

Assuming that the cyclist can do this, bus lanes can be helpful for them. And, to some extent, other vehicles as well since there will not be many bikes deviating out of the road.

But always make sure you yield to the buses and keep your wits about yourself. Get out of the bus lane as fast as possible to have no clogs for the transit system.

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