I’ve been working on letting go of the fear I feel when busses pass too closely. That, and I sometimes choose a route to avoid busses. Together, my efforts have helped a great deal. I am much calmer and am enjoying rides more.
That doesn’t mean my work is done. Today I pedaled on Western and was subjected to a close pass by a CDTA bus. I pulled onto the sidewalk and calmly called it in (after coaxing a stray chihuahua nearer to me so that it wouldn’t bolt into Western Avenue–while I was preparing to pick him up the owner came out and scooped up “Taco”–phew).
I also emailed my contact at the CDTA. He hadn’t replied to my email sent March 24, 2016 (the one with the hand drawn illustration showing that busses can’t share even the widest lanes side by side with cyclists) and it was good to remind him that the close passes are still happening.
Last time we spoke, he had hung his hat on the fact that the tape showed my outstretched arm not making contact with the bus. I let him know that my wing span in only 21″, when measured from my torso to the end of my fingers. So if I actually touch a bus, they’d be less than two feet away from me. And that ignores that the measurement needs to be made not from the body of the bus but from the furthest protruding object on the bus–the outside of the right mirror. So there needs to be a distance between my fingertips and the outside of the mirror of at least 15″ and assuming a mirror protrudes 9″ there should be two feet from my fingertips to the body of the bus. Minimum. Remember the CDTA driver manual requires a 3 foot safety zone but recommends a 5 foot safety zone. So that’s four feet from my fingers to the bus. That is a luxurious amount of room (and a luxury to which we are entitled).
The end of the flag is three feet from my shoulder. The brick wall would not be the body of the bus (or your car) but the outside of the right hand mirror. Add another two feet (to get to the five feet recommended by the CDTA manual) and you have a very comfortable buffer zone. A safety zone you’ve probably enjoyed less often than you’ve had your rights violated.
While I am doing my best to let go of the fear, I am not going to let the CDTA off the hook. They have an obligation to operate in a safe manner and in compliance with all laws. Until they do, I will be on them. It would be great if you could lend your support. If you are passed too closely, note the time, bus number, route and direction of travel. Pull off the road and call the CDTA at 518-482-8822 and make a report of the close pass. Put the number in your phone now. Remind the CDTA rep that their manual requires a minimum safety zone of 3 feet and recommends 5 feet, measured from the outside of the bus mirror to your right shoulder, and that drivers are required to slow when passing cyclists (slowing is not the law, but it is in the CDTA driver’s manual so it is as good as law for bus drivers).
Close passes by busses happen to me nearly every time I ride on Western. It must happen, then, dozens of times a day with all the cyclists that use Western on their commutes. If every cyclist called, the CDTA would sort this out much more quickly. I’ve been working on them for more than two years. With your help we can get this addressed before someone loses their life.
New Yorker? Remember to vote tomorrow! 12-9 in Albany. I think this one may be a squeaker!