In December, the UK county of Cambridgeshire started a traffic regulation trial that let electric vehicle drivers use bus lanes, which are typically reserved for buses, taxis, motorcycles, and cyclists.
The county council said that letting electric vehicles use the bus lanes serves as an additional incentive to get drivers out of their combustion engine vehicles and into EVs.
— road.cc (@roadcc) January 14, 2021
Bus lanes are designed to give some priority to those that use public transport, meaning that they don’t get stuck in traffic jams and can stick to their scheduled times.
While we’re all for getting more people into electric cars, we’re also keen on supporting our roads’ most vulnerable users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. In bike-first cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, infrastructure is designed to protect the most vulnerable road users before giving priority to cars.
Bus lanes aren’t a perfect solution for cycling infrastructure, but in the UK they are one of the closest thing cyclists get to dedicated infrastructure in the country.
Understandably, cyclists in the UK are annoyed that Cambridgeshire is letting cars, even if they are electric, into the bus lanes.
I'm all for electric and self-driving cars, but it seems some people lose all sense of safety and logic the second electric cars are mentioned.
Have them on the road, not in lanes with cyclists. https://t.co/oW9W74hA0V
— Ashles (@Ashles3000) January 14, 2021
In Nottingham, these lanes are generally occupied by commuters in electric beamers who’ve bought them so they can speed up and overtake other traffic while in the quieter lane ?
— Steve (@stephen365) January 14, 2021
As readers of UK-based online cycling magazine Road.cc highlight, the whole point of letting cyclists use bus lanes is to offer them a safe space that is somewhat segregated from dense car traffic. Letting EVs in infringes on that safe space.
Sure they don’t emit fumes like combustion engine vehicles do, but they are still fast and heavy chunks of metal that can pose a significant threat to the road’s most vulnerable road users.
The trial is destined to run for around 18-months, at which point the council will reconvene to discuss whether the trial was a success.
However, with the UK imposing a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2035, EVs can’t have priority to bus lanes forever, otherwise they will get too busy and be rendered useless.
SHIFT is brought to you by Polestar. It’s time to accelerate the shift to sustainable mobility. That is why Polestar combines electric driving with cutting-edge design and thrilling performance. Find out how.
Get the TNW newsletter
Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.