Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bus 5616 61C vs. the Flock

This is an open letter to Port Authority of Allegheny County, to be used by anyone who drives a bus, and the trainers of those drivers. It concerns an incident the evening of Friday, February 21, 2014, involving a bus and a couple dozen bike riders on the monthly Flock of Cycles ride. I was one of the cyclists.

The roughly 25 cyclists were riding inbound on Forbes Ave together near CMU in the right lane, and stopped at the light at Morewood. Two cars were in the left inbound lane. A bus approached, inbound 61C, bus 5616, and waited behind the two cars. A rider on the bus was already standing, waiting to get off. It's a "far side" stop, meaning the bus stop is on the inbound side of the corner.

The light turned green, the two cars in the left lane started, followed by the bus, whose male driver tried to get ahead of the lead set of cyclists and cut them off, so as to be able to discharge the passenger and board about four others who were waiting. The line of cyclists started off at a normal pace and got to the stop about even with the bus, making it impossible for the bus driver to cut off the line of cyclists. He was slightly into the right lane, making it a bit narrow for the bikes to get through, but not dangerously so, so it wasn't difficult for the line to pass. So he waited, and in about 15 seconds, the whole line of cyclists got past, he pulled in, discharged and boarded passengers, and then continued on Forbes, accelerating hard to try again to get ahead of the group.

A few hundred yards later is another inbound stop, opposite Hamburg Hall. There were 10 people waiting to board here. As before, though, this wasn't going to happen. There is a slight downhill here, and the group of cyclists had gathered quite a bit of speed. The bus, still in the left lane, simply blew off the stop, with 10 people jumping and waving and yelling, and several starting off running after the bus to try to catch it at Craig Street. They didn't; they ended up walking Craig St, too. I had stopped to tweet the incident (1, 2), and passed them on my way to catch up with the rest of the cyclists.

Here is what should have happened. Back before Morewood, the driver should have seen the group of cyclists. There is no way the driver did not see the cyclists. One guy had on a lighted jacket you could see from a mile away. That is in addition to every other cyclist having at least one, often several, flashing lights. Upon seeing that there is a group of cyclists, he should have realized that it was not going to be possible to get ahead of a group like that, and got in behind them. Had that happened, there would not have been a lane pinch for the cyclists at the Morewood stop, and being behind the group, there would have been no problem at the Hamburg stop. Everyone could have boarded and exited without incident.

Port Authority, please talk with this driver and explain the above. If trainers in particular do not understand this, I will be happy to come in and explain and discuss it in person. I am both a frequent transit rider and an experienced street cyclist, and while I haven't actually driven a bus, I sat in the simulator once, so have a pretty good idea what bus drivers can see.

1 comment:

  1. Bus drivers need to know how to deal with bicycle riders riding as a group. Here is how *not* to do it.