Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 26th, 2008 at 1:40 pm
In the wake of the tragic death of 15 year-old Austin Miller, who was killed when he and a TriMet bus collided in Beaverton earlier this month, TriMet has issued a press release (full text below) that outlines immediate, near-term, and long-term actions they will take "to make it safer for bicyclists and buses."
Working in partnership with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), TriMet says in the statement that after the Miller fatality, "it became clear to the leadership at TriMet and the BTA that preventing future crashes like this one would take more than simply admonishing bicyclists and drivers."
Even though TriMet says their driver was adhering to "safety procedures" at the time of the collision, they write, "It would be remiss if we did not take action to improve road safety in our region following this crash."
According to sources at the BTA, TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen (in photo) called a meeting soon after the recent crash. That meeting was reportedly productive and led one BTA staffer, who in the past has been lukewarm about TriMet's bike safety efforts to say, "I'm very optimistic about changes at TriMet."
As for those changes, TriMet says that following the Miller tragedy, trainers immediately reviewed bike-related operating requirements with all 1,200 of their drivers.
TriMet says they will also give operators additional training on driving around bicyclists "above the level of attention it has received in the past," and that they will work with the BTA to identify dangerous routes and "explore ways to minimize conflicts."
Under the heading of "long-term action," TriMet says they will start to consider bike routes when the move, build, or enhance future bus stops and they say they will, "look at developing a pilot project to design new bus stops with a focus on both pedestrian and bike safety along bike/bus routes."
Here is the full text of the press release:
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Sharing the road
TriMet & BTA will work to make it safer for bicyclists & buses
Two weeks ago, 15-year-old Austin Miller died while riding his bike home from his Beaverton high school when he and a TriMet bus collided at the intersection of SW Farmington and Murray. As the police investigated this tragic collision, it became clear to the leadership at TriMet and at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance that preventing future crashes like this one would take more than simply admonishing bicyclists and drivers.
While all early indications are that the bus operator followed TriMet safety procedures, we would be remiss if we did not take action to improve road safety in our region following this crash. With more bicyclists and vehicles sharing the road, a more critical look at general causes is needed, including road and trail design, education for cyclists and drivers, street connectivity (or lack thereof) and traffic volumes in the area.
Just days after the incident, TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen called a meeting at the BTA offices to discuss how TriMet can actively improve its operations and planning for bicycles in the region. Here are the actions TriMet and BTA commit to taking in cooperation with one another:
--Following the crash, TriMet trainers immediately began reinforcing to every operator (nearly 1,200 of them) the safe operating requirements when cyclists are present, including anticipating bicyclists’ movements, and yielding to cyclists before pulling into or out of a bus stop, or turning or changing lanes.
--TriMet trainers will emphasize operating a bus around bicyclists in the 2008 training cycle above the level of attention it has received in years past.
--The BTA and TriMet will work together to identify routes with high levels of bus/bike congestion or conflict and will explore ways to minimize conflicts. Improvements could include more space dedicated to buses and bikes, enhancements to alternative routes for bicycle travel, or moving bus stops or bike lanes to minimize conflicts.
--TriMet will work with the BTA and other regional bike groups to encourage county and local governments to adequately plan for and build safer bicycle infrastructure.
--TriMet planners will look at nearby bike routes and crossings when bus and train stops are built, moved or enhanced to determine if improvements can be made as part of or concurrently with the project.
--TriMet and the BTA will research designs for bus stops and bike lanes that minimize conflict in areas of bike/bus congestion. TriMet will look at developing a pilot project to design new bus stops with a focus on both pedestrian and bike safety along bike/bus routes.