Cycling in the Los Angeles area: dealing with buses

Photo by waltarrrrr via Flickr

Photo by waltarrrrr via Flickr

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 or via email at 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.

Upcoming bike ride: Pedal Powered Street Theater Ride on June 21

cicle ride 6

From a previous ride with CICLE.

Join Metro, CICLE, and Bike Odyssey LA on a theatrical community bicycle ride on Saturday, June 21. Riders will be immersed in stories from Homer’s The Odyssey, reimagined in modern Los Angeles County. The ride will make several stops throughout Balboa Park. Dressing up in togas and laurel wreaths is encouraged!

Meet up with the group at the Metro Orange Line Sepulveda Station at 6 p.m. The ride leaves promptly at 6:30 p.m. and will return to the starting location by 8 p.m.

Besides the Orange Line, you can also get to the meeting spot via Metro Bus 154, 156/656, 164, 234, 236/237 and Rapid 734. Plan your trip at

Metro sponsored rides provide an opportunity to practice riding comfortably with traffic, bike safely in a group and become acquainted with bikeways in Los Angeles County. C.I.C.L.E. rides are leisurely, family-friendly and led by fully-supportive and trained Ride Leaders and volunteers. Prior to the ride, safe street riding and group ride etiquette will be reviewed to ensure smooth sailing.

Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – Daniella Alcedo, an inspiring bike advocate behind bike rides, a radio show, and more!

We are collecting nominations for the Year-Round Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a monthly Why You Ride series because for many Angelenos, Bike Week never ends!

  • Name: Daniella Alcedo
  • Distance: Short commutes (Less than one mile), medium commutes (one to five miles), and long commutes (five miles or more)
  • Type of commute: Scenic 
  • The Commuter: Comrade commuter – for friends and family who bike together. Chic commuter – for those who ride with flair

Daniella Alcedo co-hosts the #WomenTalkBikes’ radio show. Photo: Maria Sipin.

Maria Sipin, a Golden Pedal Award winner in 2013 and supporter of Bike Week LA, nominated Daniella for the award. Thanks Maria!

Daniella’s ties to bicycling go beyond mere commuting. Her dedication to the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition and getting people involved through bike rides is inspiring. She leads the Ride Around Pomona Ride each month along with other social rides and invites all bicyclists to join. As Maria says, “Daniella is one of the reasons I became more involved in advocacy work. She changed my mind about it in general by challenging the misconceptions I had about activism and bicycling.”


Daniella and friends at a Metro Rail platform on one of their bike rides in LA County.

Although Daniella may not commute by bike daily, she serves those who do and gets others excited about volunteering for bike events. As the founder of the radio show #WomenTalkBikes, she elevates the voices of women bicyclists, including those with commuter stories to share.

With help from our generous Bike Week LA sponsors, Daniella will receive a Bike Week LA bag with a Nathan safety vest, patch kits, ankle straps, bike maps, Metro Bike Guides, and “Every Lane is a Bike Lane” bumper stickers.

Why You Ride: Bicycle Edition – Sweeyoke Ooi, known for her cycling adventures, advocacy and positive energy

We are collecting nominations for the Year-Round Golden Pedal Awards, Metro’s competition for great stories about bicycling. We’re featuring these stories in a monthly Why You Ride series because for many Angelenos, Bike Week never ends!

  • Name: Sweeyoke Ooi
  • Commuting Mode: Hybrid (Bike / Public Transit)
Swee, at Metro Bike Night's photo both having such a blast.

Sweeyoke at Metro Bike Night 2014’s photo both having a blast.

Sweeyoke Ooi loves bicycles! She also loves public transportation. Combining the two, this resident of Torrance is able to get just about anywhere in Los Angeles County.

Swee has also been an avid supporter or Metro’s Bike Week LA. You may have seen her taking photos at press conferences, riding like the wind at the Wednesday morning guided ride, visiting pit stops on Thursday’s Bike to Work Day, and dancing up a storm at Friday’s Metro Bike Night at Union Station.

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Metro Releases 2014 Bike Map!

Click above for a pdf version to view larger.

Click above for a pdf version to view larger.

Metro released its 2014 Bike Map just in time for Bike Week LA!

This map is small enough to fit in a backpack or pannier, yet it folds out to show Los Angeles County’s bike paths, lanes, routes, cycle tracks, path access points, Metro Rail lines, busways and Metrolink stations, including those with bicycle parking.

Metro collected and mapped information from 88 cities and LA County in order to produce the map. The updated map shows 305 miles of Class 1 bike paths, 835 miles of Class 2 bike lanes, 522 miles of Class 3 bike routes and a brand new cycle track in Temple City. This represents an increase of 17 percent or 240 total bikeway miles in just two years.

The map differentiates between LA County’s Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, and cycle track bikeways by color coding facilities. Class 1 bike paths (green) are separated from streets. Class 2 bike lanes (orange) are striped for one-way travel on streets or highways. Class 3 bike routes (pink) are shared use facilities with motor vehicles and include signage indicating a bike travel route. Cycle Tracks (purple) are on-road or raised facilities physically separated from motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Metro’s comprehensive bike maps help people make trips by bicycle by facilitating the discovery of new bikeways and connections to Metro transit. They also aid city planners, engineers and community members to collaborate and close gaps in the network by building bikeways that connect to those of neighboring jurisdictions. Find the new 2014 map online, at bicycle events throughout the year or submit an online request for a printed map.

Metro Bike Night at Union Station: it’s a wrap!

From the Snap Yourself Bike Night photo booth, check out more photos from the event here!

Metro hosted its first-ever Bike Night at Union Station last Friday and more than 750 people came to check it out. Thanks to all who attended–we hope you had a great time! And if you weren’t able to come, here’s a sample of what you missed:


Sprinkling of pics from Bike to Work Day, here and around the U.S.