Update, June 3: On further reflection, I think that I was too hard on the bus driver. Click here to see my Mea Culpa.
Update, June 11: On Wednesday, June 9, somebody from B.C. Transit’s customer service department called to follow up on my letter. I told him that, upon further reflection, I had realized that I had blown this issue out of proportion. He correctly pointed out that the most concerning aspect of the incident was that the driver had yelled at me as he drove past – undoing the politeness that he displayed by giving me the right of way. However, the B.C. Transit person that I talked to said they had still not identified the driver, since there were several in the area around that time.
I am about to go to the post office to mail a letter to B.C. Transit, because of an incident that happened this morning. Here is the text of my letter:
Manuel Achadinha, President and CEO
520 Gorge Road East
Victoria, BC, V8W 2P3
May 31, 2010
Dear Mr. Achadinha,
Thank you for leading such an excellent organization. I am consistently impressed by the transit services offered by B.C. Transit in the Victoria area: the routes cover the area well and are frequent and reliable. For the most part, drivers provide professional, courteous service, and work hard under difficult conditions. Everybody at B.C. Transit should be thanked and congratulated for contributing to such an excellent organization.
However, I am writing to bring something to your attention. It raises larger issues of driver training that I think you should be aware of and deal with.
As both a cyclist and a transit user, I feel that safe roads are very important. Part of maintaining safe roads is ensuring that all road users act safely and consistently, by following the rules of the road. Today, I noticed that one of your drivers failed to do so, causing inconvenience and a potentially unsafe environment.
At about 8:25 this morning, I was making a left hand turn from Craigflower Road on to Styles Street as illustrated here:
Your driver was coming north on Craigflower in the opposing lane, as illustrated by this diagram:
Following the normal rules of the road for vehicles, I “took the lane,” and waited by the centre line indicating my intention to turn with my left arm. One car in the opposing lane that was ahead of your bus passed me normally, then your bus came to a stop. This is unusual. Normally, vehicles in the opposing lane do not stop to allow other vehicles to make left turns. At least three cars stopped behind your bus. Meanwhile, cars were passing me on the right which, although dangerous, did not inconvenience anybody. I was confused by the bus driver’s behaviour, because I could not see any reason for him to stop. I assumed that he saw some unexpected reason to stop that was hidden from me, and since he had the right of way, I decided to wait until he moved his bus before making my left turn.
After about a minute, the bus started moving again. As he passed me, the driver opened the window and yelled, “Why didn’t you go? I was letting you go!!” He seemed very angry. I didn’t have enough time to explain to him that he had the right of way in that situation, and that the safest thing to do would have been for him to not stop to let me go. I was relatively safe next to the centre line, indicating my intention to turn and letting other drivers come around on my right side. It would have been less safe for me to take the right of way from him, when I was not sure why he had stopped. After the bus passed me, two of the drivers also yelled something at me, although I could not hear what they said. This indicates that they were frustrated by the driver’s actions too. If he had not stopped, they would not have been held up, and I would have completed my turn after they had gone past me. After those three cars passed, there was a long and safe gap for me to make my turn during, so there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the bus driver to try to help me do so.
The issue here is that all road users should follow the rules of the road consistently. As a cyclist, I need to know what to expect from other vehicles on the road. I do not want to be treated with special consideration; I want to be treated as any other road user would be treated. Doing so is safe and convenient for everybody. I’m sure your passengers and other road users do not appreciate being delayed because your driver wanted to give me special consideration, either.
I hope that this diagram and related description makes sense. Please let me know if you need clarification on any of these points. Please also let me know what you intend to do about this situation. Do your bus drivers need more training about how to deal with cyclists on the road? Or was this simply an errant bus driver who was unaware of or forgot the normal rules of the road? If so, will he be disciplined and/or retrained? Do your bus drivers, in general, receive any training about how to interact with cyclists? What could be done to make your service better by ensuring bus drivers know what do when they see cyclists, as cycling mode share increases?
cc. Customer Complaints, B.C. Transit
520 Gorge Road East
Victoria, B.C. V8W 2P3
cc. Darren Marr, GVCC President
PO Box 8586 Stn. Central
Victoria, B.C. V8W 3S2