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Old 05-22-13, 07:34 PM   #1
spivonious
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Close call from a bus

I had two close passes by the same bus earlier this week and let the bus company know about it. Their response greatly exceeded my expectations, so I'm posting it here.

My message to them:
Quote:
Hello,
I cycle to and from work in Lititz each weekday. Normally I have no problems from buses or other vehicles on the road, but this morning was different. Bus 181 made some close passes of me on PA-501 approaching Lititz, well within the 4-foot distance required by PA law. It happened twice between 8:00 and 8:20 in the area of Kissel Hill.
Normally I'm pretty forgiving, but as this road has a center turn lane, it is inexcusable for the bus driver to not have moved over farther to give a safe distance when passing. I am also careful to be as visible as possible, wearing a bright yellow reflective vest, and this morning had a rear blinky light, a headlight, and a blinky wheel light in operation due to the gray, foggy conditions. It is unlikely that he/she did not see me.
I am sure the driver wasn't doing this vindictively, but may have thought he/she was giving me enough space. Please let him/her know that it was not.
Thanks,
Scott P
And their response a few days later:
Quote:
Scott,
I apologize that our bus didnít give you more room; I reviewed the videotape from the bus on that day and agree we were quite close Ė especially on the second occurrence. I have spoken to the one Driver that passed you twice and hung a notice in our Drivers room about the PA law pertaining to bicycles. Please contact me should any other issues arise.

Very Respectfully,
Shawn Updegrove
RRTA Operations Director
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Old 05-22-13, 07:41 PM   #2
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Good for them.
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Old 05-22-13, 07:55 PM   #3
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Yes... agree that was a good response. Good that you took the time to inform them too.
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Old 05-22-13, 08:36 PM   #4
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Agreed. Good to hear they checked it out and let the driver know. Like you said in the message to them, the bus drivers probably weren't being vindictive, but just needed to realize they weren't giving you enough room. Hopefully now that the bus drivers are aware of this issue, they will give you more room.
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Old 05-22-13, 09:21 PM   #5
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Really impressive. Both your polite message, and their response.
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Old 05-22-13, 09:31 PM   #6
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Very cool response you got. Nice that you informed the transit folks and nice that they responded. Great Citizenship!
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Old 05-23-13, 05:39 AM   #7
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Videotape on buses is a great idea. I had an incident in February where a bus pulled up next to me and, when I was about even with the rear door of the bus, veered across my traffic lane, nearly hitting me, to pick up passengers at the bus stop. Even though it was dark, it was particularly egregious because he knew I was there: he had to move left to go around me so he could cut me off at the bus stop.

I complained to the bus company as you did and received an almost identical reply: after reviewing the videotape, they clearly saw the incident, agreed with me, and said they reviewed with all their drivers proper safety for overtaking cyclists. Maybe they didn't do anything, but it was a nice letter and, if true, the videotape proved my point.

I gotta get a Contour for my bike.
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Old 05-23-13, 06:01 AM   #8
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wow, very impressive. In general the buses near me are courteous and safe. I'm glad they reviewed the videotape, my initial assumption was that they would blow off any complaint from a cyclist. I'm glad to be wrong.
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Old 05-23-13, 06:03 AM   #9
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I have a Contour and the problem is that the wide angle makes everything look more exciting. Distances look tighter...I think it would be a negative for many situations and I rarely use it now. The rattle also makes things look faster.
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Old 05-23-13, 06:46 AM   #10
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Kudos to both you and the bus company.

You sent an honest complaint without seeking a pound of flesh, and the company director took the time to check out the situation and acknowledged the mistake and inform the drivers so this isn't repeated in the future.
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Old 05-23-13, 07:00 AM   #11
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Good for you and the bus company. School buses are the worst offenders for passing too closely, in my experience. I will try your approach next time it happens, if I have the wits to see and remember the bus number.

There is one school bus that passes me regularly right before a RR crossing and comes to a complete stop, as required by law. Seriously, the bus passes me within 20-50' of the crossing nearly every time -- forcing me to stop. The bus driver could easily wait 1-2 seconds and avoid passing me, but does the same thing several times a week.

Last edited by tarwheel; 05-23-13 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 05-23-13, 07:15 AM   #12
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Great letter AND response. I am particularly impressed by this:

Quote:
reviewed the videotape from the bus on that day and agree we were quite close
It's nice to see that the bus company as a whole is accepting responsibility, and taking action... and not just placing blame on the driver.
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Old 05-23-13, 08:15 AM   #13
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@tarwheel: I agree. Most of my close passes are school buses, so I try to avoid riding when they're out. I think that most of the drivers aren't aware of how big the buses really are.

@TampaRaleigh: I totally missed that. It's nice to see the shared blame.
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Old 05-23-13, 10:39 AM   #14
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You know... and I'm just saying... this is all well and good. But... 4'?? Bicycle advocacy groups in the city I left have been agitating for separation barriers for the bike lanes... they finally got them. It took years, and millions of dollars but they got them... yay! Uh...no.. they have proven to be a disaster. They trap the bike and when the bike lane is blocked its blocked and if you are riding a bike you cannot lift (apparently many cyclists do this) well... there you are... There are, as we speak, Congressional Representatives that seriously wish to see all bicycles banned from public roads. For the cyclists safety! Think it can't happen? The more cyclists insist that they need ridiculous passing distances and/or separated bikeways and/or totally off-road MUP's or Green ways in order to feel "safe", the less vehicle like they will be considered by the dolt masses and ultimately just won't be worth the trouble of defending as viable transportation. If you have reasonable bike handling skills you don't need to insist that motor traffic give you 4'!! In Germany I believe its less than 3' but the car has to slow to 20mph while passing. In Oregon a driver is as likely as not to pull wide when passing but that severely freaks out traffic in the oncoming direction when this happens. A law that compels traffic to remain in its lane but to slow to a speed that is safer in a collision (apparently its 19mph) as they pass, might be better overall. Or not... I don't know. But I do know that cyclists are either not aware or don't care how they are perceived by the non-cycling public and this is dangerous. Very dangerous in the long term.

H
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Old 05-23-13, 11:42 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
You know... and I'm just saying *snip*
I didn't make the law, but I do appreciate the distance. It's less about the distance and more about expressly allowing the crossing of the double yellow line when passing a cyclist.

This bus passed me twice with less than 2 feet between us - close enough to cause me to take note of the bus number and contact the company. I've got about 600 miles on the bike since I got it in December and this is the first time I've felt that need.

I'm generally happy if a car either slows before passing closely (very rarely happens) or passes at least 3 feet from me (happens most of the time). I'm very happy if the car moves into the other lane (easily 6-8 feet from me). These are not 25mph city blocks; they are 40-60mph suburban highways, and close passes are dangerous, regardless of the cyclist's skill.
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Old 05-23-13, 12:56 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spivonious View Post

I'm generally happy if a car either slows before passing closely (very rarely happens) or passes at least 3 feet from me (happens most of the time). I'm very happy if the car moves into the other lane (easily 6-8 feet from me). These are not 25mph city blocks; they are 40-60mph suburban highways, and close passes are dangerous, regardless of the cyclist's skill.
I feel the same way and have discovered that I get significantly more space if I ride to the left of the fog line than I do if I stay on the right side. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but I think most of the people who pass too close just don't see you. That's more likely to happen if you're right out there in the lane. I do usually move to the right to give more room when traffic is approaching from the other direction.
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Old 05-23-13, 01:33 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by cogdriven View Post
I feel the same way and have discovered that I get significantly more space if I ride to the left of the fog line than I do if I stay on the right side. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but I think most of the people who pass too close just don't see you. That's more likely to happen if you're right out there in the lane. I do usually move to the right to give more room when traffic is approaching from the other direction.
I think they do see you, but they say "Oh, as long as I stay to the left of the fog line, he'll have plenty of space."
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Old 05-23-13, 02:10 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Really impressive. Both your polite message, and their response.
Probably why they even responded, I am sure they get all kinds of angry emails with people overstating assumptions of killer bus drivers. Really good to see a transit authority take complaints seriously.
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Old 05-23-13, 03:54 PM   #19
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Last summer, when I was commuting in the south Tacoma, WA area, I emailed the Franklin Pierce school district and the Clover Park school district (the two districts I rode through) with links to a few of my helmet cam videos. I'd had only minor complaints about Clover Park buses, but had several egregious close passes from Franklin Pierce buses (like this one):

Incidentally, only Clover Park responded. I suspect it's not a coincidence.
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Old 05-23-13, 04:43 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by degnaw View Post
Last summer, when I was commuting in the south Tacoma, WA area, I emailed the Franklin Pierce school district and the Clover Park school district (the two districts I rode through) with links to a few of my helmet cam videos. I'd had only minor complaints about Clover Park buses, but had several egregious close passes from Franklin Pierce buses (like this one):

Incidentally, only Clover Park responded. I suspect it's not a coincidence.
That wasn't a close pass. It wasn't a very considerate pass, but, given the road configuration at the time the bus started to overtake you I can see why he did what he did. Yep, probably a he, a she would have hung back, waited for oncoming traffic to clear and put at least one set of wheels over the center line as she went past. I noticed a couple of the earlier cars did not even put one set of wheels over the centerline as they passed. Probably because of that oncoming traffic. Of course, they were not school buses so it mattered less. Thing is... had any part of that bus whacked you... your camera would never have shown it. What it would show is you riding more to the left of the bike lane than in the center or to the right and... ... lawyers being what they are... ...

H
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Old 05-23-13, 07:59 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
That wasn't a close pass. It wasn't a very considerate pass, but, given the road configuration ... ...

H
Still, someone driving a vehicle that large has an even greater responsibility than the autos to the public around them. Not to mention the responsibility to his/her passengers, in this case children even, not to hit anything that's in the road.

That pass would have been acceptable, though inconsiderate, from an auto. From a bus, I'm calling 'foul!
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Old 05-23-13, 11:36 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
That wasn't a close pass. It wasn't a very considerate pass, but, given the road configuration at the time the bus started to overtake you I can see why he did what he did. Yep, probably a he, a she would have hung back, waited for oncoming traffic to clear and put at least one set of wheels over the center line as she went past. I noticed a couple of the earlier cars did not even put one set of wheels over the centerline as they passed. Probably because of that oncoming traffic. Of course, they were not school buses so it mattered less. Thing is... had any part of that bus whacked you... your camera would never have shown it. What it would show is you riding more to the left of the bike lane than in the center or to the right and... ... lawyers being what they are... ...

H
Perhaps I'm missing something, but (1) there's only one oncoming car in the entire video, and it doesn't conflict with any cars or the bus; and (2) there's a center turn lane, so it wouldn't have mattered anyways.

I kept to the left of the shoulder (it's not a marked bike lane) because there's numerous driveways ( http://goo.gl/maps/Smzgp ) and intersections ( http://goo.gl/maps/bGBFp ) with poor visibility where drivers tend to pull directly to the white line.
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Old 05-24-13, 06:38 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
That wasn't a close pass. It wasn't a very considerate pass, but, given the road configuration at the time the bus started to overtake you I can see why he did what he did. Yep, probably a he, a she would have hung back, waited for oncoming traffic to clear and put at least one set of wheels over the center line as she went past. I noticed a couple of the earlier cars did not even put one set of wheels over the centerline as they passed. Probably because of that oncoming traffic. Of course, they were not school buses so it mattered less. Thing is... had any part of that bus whacked you... your camera would never have shown it. What it would show is you riding more to the left of the bike lane than in the center or to the right and... ... lawyers being what they are... ...

H
Are you serious? After your response to my post and now this, I'm starting to think you're just trolling.

#1 it's not a bike lane, it's a shoulder. He is under no obligation to ride in it, and with the storm drains along the right edge, his position is as close to the right as practicable.

#2 there's a center turn lane with no oncoming traffic waiting to turn left, so the bus should have moved over when passing.

That bus driver should be fired and taken off the roads. Degnaw, if contact by email didn't work, I think a visit to the superintendent's office is in order. What if you had been a child walking along the side of the road? Someone not paying attention could be clipped by the bus's mirror.
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