Friday, August 22, 2008

Another reason why buses are evil

Most of the talk about the surprise attacks motor vehicles like to pull on cyclists is centered around the right hook. For those unfamiliar (are there any?) the pic below illustrates the right hook in all its glory.

Simply put, a right hook happens when a cyclist (either in a bike lane or just riding to the right of the road) is passed by a car which then makes an abrupt right turn, leaving the cyclist with few (and no good) options. This picture takes you to a nice bit from Commute Orlando! on what drivers should do to avoid hooking cyclists and I'm not going to cover it in any more depth. I want to talk about the pinch.

This happens, primarily with larger vehicles (vans, delivery trucks, and especially buses) when the driver in question passes the cyclist and then either drifts or cuts towards the right, leaving an ever-narrower gap for the cyclist that ultimately can only be avoided by slowing down to the point that the driver is far enough passed for the cyclist to take the lane. Sometimes it happens because the lanes shift and the drivers just aren't paying attention, and sometimes it happens because the driver is an arrogant MTA bus driver (yeah you, route 40, bus number 06008) who is apparently offended that a cyclist is on his road (at least that was the look he gave me when I came around to make a turn while he was stopped at the light).

The full story: As I got to the major intersection (where President St. becomes the JFX, around the flag in the map) I pulled out and took my lane (2nd from right, far right is turn only) because there was a bus loading up a short distance back and I know they like to crowd. As the light turned green I paced the van in front of me across the JFX slowing a little around Frederick to prep for the turn at Gay. The driver apparently was in so much of a hurry to offload some passenger (depsite there already being a bus at the stop, where the bus is visible on the map) that he started pulling over to the curb before he had fully crossed Frederick. That pinched me between him and the sidewalk, as he was passing me at the time. I ended up having to stop and then pulled out to the left while he was stopped at the Fayette/Gay light and went around (I turn right at Gay). As I went passed the driver the look he gave me was somewhere between being asleep and "you're lucky I didn't pull all the way over, @$$hole".

Just one more example of why buses are evil and I am a strong opponent of cycling on roads used by mass transit. Too bad in Baltimore you're more likely to find a rodent and roach free abandoned building than a road more than two blocks long without a bus line on it.


  1. In my area the bus drivers seem pretty well trained -- we have enough cyclists that the coach operators know to look for us, know how to operate their bus around us and so forth.

    There are exceptions -- I was squeezed out of my lane late last year and literally run off the road: I called the transit agency and gave identifying info. For the next following weeks that same bus gave me plenty of passing space.

    And just this last week I was on a bus where the driver sped up to get around a cyclist and then pulled over into a bus stop immediately in front of the cyclist. I started to say something and he was "I know I know, sorry." This particular driver is almost always very accommodating toward cyclists so I don't know what he was thinking, and I figure it was one of those "that was a stupid move" kind of moments that every driver (and cyclist) has on occasion.

  2. Must be nice. The drivers here treat everyone else on the road (cars, pedestrians, cyclists) like their some sort of inferior life form. Oh well, I only have to deal for another month...

  3. Here in NH I don't have to deal with consistent mass transit, but I figured out long ago that foliage tour bus drivers are homicidal maniacs. You really have to camp out in the lane to keep them from squeezing in and herding you into the gutter. Some tractor-trailer drivers are the same way. The problem is, you don't know which ones are okay and which are not. The answer is "always cover the lane." It must be tough in Charm City, though. Some of those streets are pretty hilly and the intersections can have a steep dropoff into the gutter. I only rode there a little (lived in Annapolis) but I remember some jostling at stoplights.