For the most part, my experience with bus operators while cycling in Los Angeles has been good and one of mutual respect for each other on the road. Many of the bus operators I’ve encountered here are courteous, patient and professional. They’re able to navigate skillfully in the most stressful of L.A. road situations with a high regard for safety.
But there are sometimes complaints from cyclists about bus operators — and you may have seen some on social media. One common conflict point, and I’ve experienced it: a bus from behind approaches a cyclist and then tries to overtake them in order to reach a bus stop ahead. That forces cyclists to either slam on the brakes or swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid being sideswiped or rear-ending the bus. These incidences are frustrating to say the least.
There is also the fact that Metro for the past year has been pushing a “Every Lane is a Bike Lane” and “Every Day is a Bike Day” campaign to encourage area residents to use bikes as a way of getting around. More importantly, through these campaigns the agency has become one of the many leading voices advocating for cyclist’s safety and rights.
Metro stands by its message.
Metro’s rules and procedures require that the agency’s bus operators share the road safely with cyclists. As part of Metro’s training programs, there are seven strategies that are provided for sharing the road with cyclists and it is constantly reinforced that cyclists have the same rights as motorists and an equal share to the road. Metro’s safety training also includes videos such as the one below titled “Share the Road – Buses & Bicycles” that was produced by Chicago Transit Authority and the city of Chicago. It is required viewing for new Metro bus operators and seasoned veterans.
Metro bus operators are instructed to, among other things:
- When passing a bicyclist on the road, operators should maintain steady speeds and not accelerate. The operator must allow safe clearance between the bus and the bike at a minimum of three feet.
- If there isn’t enough room for a bus to pass, operators must slow down, stop and wait their turn.
- Operators should keep the bicyclist in front of them unless the operator is absolutely certain they can pass the cyclist safely. Operators should not stop shortly after passing.
And here are some key safety tips for cyclists:
- Cyclists are legally allowed to take control of a traffic lane. Many cyclists do this on streets where there is no bike lane or room to ride on the side of the road. Why do cyclists do this? Positioning yourself in the middle of the lane makes cyclists more visible and requires motorists to switch lanes to pass, thereby giving more space to cyclists in case they need to swerve to avoid a vehicle that encroaches on their lane.
- When passing a bus, bicyclists should allow at least three feet between their bike and the bus. If there’s about three feet between the bus and the bike, the bike should be visible in the bus operator’s rear-view mirror.
- Always merge with traffic to pass on the left. Never split lanes to get ahead of a bus. At some point the bus will leave the bus stop and enter traffic. Remain visible and alert.
- Never pass on the right. Passing on the right can endanger people getting on and off the bus.
- If a bus passes you, stay alert and watch to see if the bus is going to stop.
If you want to file a complaint to Metro, please note the time, place, date, bus route, identification number of the vehicle and direction of travel and report it to metro.net/comments or via email at CustomerRelations@metro.net with your name and contact information.
Complaints are taken seriously and Metro reviews and takes action if it’s warranted. Let’s continue working together on the same path to make our streets safer for all.
Metro’s Dave Sotero contributed to this post.