Sadiq Khan to review safety of ‘floating bus stops’ beside cycle lanes

Bus stop concerns: a delegation from National Federation of the Blind at City Hall (Ross Lydall)
Bus stop concerns: a delegation from National Federation of the Blind at City Hall (Ross Lydall)

Sadiq Khan has promised to conduct a review of “floating” bus stops after a delegation of blind people raised safety concerns.

“Floating” bus stops have been introduced alongside many new cycle lanes in London, primarily to prevent cyclists being put in danger if they get stuck behind a stationary bus and have to pull out into moving traffic.

But campaigners say the alternative design – which places a cycle lane between the bus stop and the pavement – puts pedestrians at risk when boarding or getting off a bus, despite a “zebra crossing” normally being included in the design to indicate that pedestrians have right of way.

A floating bus stop beside the cycleway in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton (Ross Lydall)
A floating bus stop beside the cycleway in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton (Ross Lydall)

St Thomas’s hospital unsuccessfully fought a long campaign to prevent a floating bus stop being installed on Westminster bridge, fearing patients would come into conflict with cyclists heading northbound over the river.

Mr Khan, speaking at Mayor’s Question Time on Thursday, promised either he or his deputy mayor for transport Seb Dance would meet campaigners “as soon as possible”, and said Transport for London was already reviewing the safety of floating bus stops.

He said: “What we can’t have is a situation where somebody is seriously hurt, or worse, as a consequence of a cyclist not following the Highway Code and running over somebody. It’s really important we do this before, God forbid, that happens, rather than afterwards.

“I’m more than happy to throw at this what we can to make sure these bus stop bypasses are safer than they appear to be.”

Members of the National Federation of the Blind of the UK attended the City Hall hearing, accompanied by Nellie the guide dog.

In a letter to the mayor and members of the London Assembly, they submitted a petition supported by 164 campaign groups calling for “urgent action” to improve safety for bus passengers queuing or alighting at floating bus stops.

They are also concerned about being hit by riders of e-scooters or e-bikes.

The letter, from Andrew Hodgson, president of NFBUK, said: “Expecting people who cannot see, who cannot move very fast or who are using mobility aids to step on and into a cycle lane with speeding cyclists and people using e-devices is simply not safe.”

Speaking to the Standard before the meeting, they admitted they were unaware of specific incidents of blind people coming to harm - but said the concern about colliding with cyclists was such that many blind people were reluctant to use buses in the first place.

Singer Elaine Paige tweeted that floating bus stops were “utter madness”.

Emma Best, a Tory member of the London Assembly, referred to media reports describing floating bus stops as “death trap bike lanes” because the majority of cyclists refused to stop for pedestrians.

She asked the mayor if he would support an “awareness campaign” advising cyclists how to behave around floating bus stops. She said wider concerns were shared by pensioners and people with young children.

Mr Khan said TfL’s approach to installing floating bus stops was “completely consistent” with Department for Transport guidance. He declined a request to stop TfL more floating bus stops.

But he said: “You are right: all cyclists are required to stop for pedestrians at zebra crossings, in accordance with the Highway Code.

“Clearly, if it is the case that that is not happening, we need to not just raise awareness, we need to try and ensure there is enforcement as well.

“We need to make sure we keep cyclists safe from the risk of pulling out into traffic when a bus is [at] a bus stop, but also that pedestrians, particularly visually impaired ones, aren’t in danger because of cyclists not following the code. It’s really important they feel safe as well.

“What I am will in to do, and what I think we must do, is look into safety concerns raised by not just those who are visually impaired but others to make sure, in the quest to make cyclists safe, we don’t inadvertently, because a minority of cyclists aren’t following the rules, endanger others.”

This would potentially include working with the Government to improve safety and raise awareness, he said, adding that TfL had already begun work. “Clearly more needs to be done,” Mr Khan said.