What Bus Drivers Want Bicyclists to Know
The streets belong to all of us, despite our mode of travel. We can coexist with a little patience and understanding.
This week, Arlington Public School Bus Drivers had an in-service program before school starts. At the last minute some space opened, and BikeArlington was asked to come speak about how to drive around bicyclists. This was a great opportunity for us to speak to 220+ bus drivers. We were up for the challenge!
When my co-worker Elizabeth and I arrived, we saw it was standing room only. Our host Kimberly Wilks welcomed us to the stage. Elizabeth introduced me. I looked out at the drivers, took a deep breath and began.
I started out asking if any of them biked, rode buses, took Metro, rode a scooter or walked. Most everyone raised their hands at one point. I wanted to establish some common ground. We are ALL people who are just trying to get to work, school, places of worship or run errands. We each choose a variety of methods to do that, and because we have limited space, we have to share the roads.
Once we established commonalities, I spoke about what we teach bicyclists as far as the rules of the road and discussed the types of bike infrastructure that is available. I ended that section of my talk by sharing why we are sometimes on the road, despite all of the bike infrastructure.
I could tell that some of them didn’t know what it is like for bicyclists and they have a better understanding of bicycle infrastructure.
But this was not a one-way conversation. I wanted to learn more about them. So, I ended my presentation by asking them what they wanted bicyclists to know about riding around buses. Here’s what they told me:
- Buses have blind spots. Please don’t get next to them from the middle of the bus to the back to squeeze past them. They can’t see you from that angle.
- When they put their lights on and flip out the Stop Sign we have to stop just like the cars are supposed to.
- They are carrying precious cargo and take their jobs very seriously. They don’t want anyone to be hurt while they are driving.
- They have a tail swing, which is the length of the bus as it’s turning, of about 3- 6 feet. Please be aware of that when you are riding near them.
- They need a lot of space to stop.
I loved hearing their side of the story and what it’s like to drive a bus. I learned a lot that I didn’t know and hope I was able to educate them about biking and biking infrastructure. The streets belong to all of us, despite our mode of travel. We can coexist with a little patience and understanding.
Want to be more confident biking around buses, cars, pedestrians, etc? Sign up for our fall bicycling classes.