Bus/Bike workshop – What did we learn?

Want to see a bus driver sweat? Watch them ride a bicycle through a multi-lane roundabout.

Want to see a cyclist sweat? Watch them drive a 12+ meter, 12 tonne bus around a parking lot.

Safety briefing before entering the first roundabout

Actually, there are Wellington bus drivers who ride bikes! Apparently split-shifts are common and some of the drivers use the downtime to enjoy a bike ride. There’s also bicycle parking at the depot (although it’s a wheel-bender) that seemed to be getting used.

The cyclists who attended have a new respect for bus drivers who can manage such large vehicles on Wellington’s narrow roads filled with… everyone! The bus drivers who attended made several comments about cyclists on Wellington’s roads being brave.

Enough people attended that the bike ride had to be split into two groups. It’s worth noting that at least one bus driver said this workshop will encourage him to get back on his bike regularly, but none of the cyclists asked for a job application to drive a bus.

As I’ve said in a previous post: Bus drivers and cyclists are both on the same side of the battle when it comes to safe, efficient and sustainable transportation. This was reinforced after sitting at a big table full of cyclists and bus drivers, all sharing our thoughts, concerns and observations about sharing the roads together (admittedly, there may have been a self-selection bias among those in attendance). It also turns out that bus drivers and cyclists share common enemies: inattentive/careless/impatient motorists, inattentive/careless/impatient pedestrians and skateboarders (maybe not all skateboarders). We also acknowledged that there are some among our ranks, both bus drivers and cyclists, who don’t do a spectacular job: Outreach and education remain issues on both sides.

Among the bus drivers in attendance, none of them expressed any desire to run over cyclists; if nothing else it results in too much paperwork. In fact, they expressed a desire to keep everyone in and around their buses safe from harm. To those ends, some of the big lessons for cyclists, from the bus drivers:

  • Stay out of the BUS ONLY area at the Lambton Quay Bus Terminus. This area is BUS ONLY for very good reasons! Either cycle around the area or walk your bike through it along designated footpaths.
  • Stay focused and attentive. Specifically, don’t ride around with an i-pod.
  • Make yourself highly visible.
  • Learn where a bus’s blind spots are and stay out of the blind spots.
  • Be aware of tail swing and stay clear.
  • Avoid filtering past a bus on the left: especially near intersections and bus stops.

Most everything else reinforced a need for common courtesy more than anything else. For cyclists this means:

  • There’s no need to filter past a bus if you’re only going to slow it down once you’re in front.
  • If you see a bus indicating away from a bus-stop, let it get in front unless you can get in front without slowing it down.
  • When it’s safe to move left, let other traffic past.

One of the most memorable and pointed comments from a bus driver is the irony of having a bus that’s transporting 45 people (or more) stuck behind a cyclist who thinks s/he’s saving the planet. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Thanks to:

  • Greater Wellington Regional Council for sponsoring and co-facilitating
  • David Laing for organizing & facilitating
  • Go Wellington for hosting and letting us drive a bus



3 thoughts on “Bus/Bike workshop – What did we learn?

  1. Simon Kennett

    Just got the latest crash stats for buses vs bikes in the Wellington Region. Since the Bus driver/Cyclist workshops started in June 2010 there have been two crashes recorded (one non-injury in late 2010 and one minor injury crash in 2011).

    The results are:
    2006 – 4 crashes
    2007 – 4
    2008 – 10
    2009 – 2
    2010 – 2 (incl one early in the year)
    2011 – 1

    There hasn’t been a ‘serious injury’ crash between a bus and bike since 2008. Long may this trend continue!


Your comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s