What Bus Drivers Want Bicyclists to Know

Renée Moore Tweet Us @bikearlington@bikearlington September 3, 2019
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Renée Moore is the Program Manager for BikeArlington. You can often find her dress billowing in the wind and leading bike expeditions to Arlington’s most awesome destinations.

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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 onlyOur host Kimberly Wilks welcomed us to the stage. Elizabeth introduced me. I looked out at the drivers, took a deep breath and began.

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 availableI ended that section of my talk by sharing why we are sometimes on the road, despite all of the bike infrastructures.  

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 its like to drive a busI 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.

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