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Watch TriMet TV episode on sharing the road

Posted by on September 11th, 2008 at 3:30 pm

random shots need to edit
Watch TriMet TV episode below.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The latest episode of TriMet TV is titled, Buses, Trains & Bikes: Sharing the Road.

The piece outlines many safe biking measures aimed at keeping bike riders safe while operating around buses and MAX trains.

Among all the expected messages the narrator shares (use signals, walk your bike on MAX platforms, look both ways, etc…) is this one about the dreaded “leap-frogging” that occurs on some busy bike and bus routes (like N. Williams):

“Buses and bikes share the right side of the road, and often have to “weave” across each other’s paths as buses serve stops. Buses aren’t permitted to cross bike lanes to get to a bus stop until the bike lane is clear. If you approach a bus serving a stop, pass on the left.

When you see a stopped bus with the right blinker or the flashers activated, that means passengers are getting on and off and you should pass on the left. When a bus is flashing its “Yield” sign, don’t pass. Instead, allow the bus back into the center of the lane. You should even stop if necessary. Yield signs allow buses to get back into traffic after they leave stops, so they can stay on schedule.”

Watch the movie below (I’ve uploaded it to YouTube because I didn’t see any embed code on TriMet’s website). You can read a full transcript of the episode here.

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  • Oliver September 11, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    It was nice to see the demonstration of a right-turn signal using the right arm pointing in the direction of the turn.

    The old method, which I see many (new?) cyclists employing is dangerous. It abruptly changes ones center of gravity, unbalancing the rider, and moves the hand farther from the handlebars at a time when one is usually slowing and altering direction, just when increased control of the bicyle is indicated.

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  • Steve Pappert September 11, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    I just got home from playing leapfrog with a bus on Williams. I really dislike it and I bet it drives the drivers crazy, but I don\’t know what to do except like it says in the clip. If there was no bike lane you could ride on the left side, (arguably you still can see ORS 814.420(3)(c) I do this on 4th all the time, no bus, no right hook (people are used to looking before turning left).

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  • Gabrielm September 11, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    @Oliver,
    \”Left hand up\” is an outdated/dangerous method?

    I would argue that removing your right hand from the back break while in motion is considerably more dangerous. A front-only (left hand) stop at any real velocity can pitch you over the handlebars.

    This is something that I have experienced.

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  • Duncan September 11, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    either way works for me.

    As to tri Met- maybe there drivers could quit leaving their ass hanining in the bike lane and instead pull all the way over?

    And maybe not rush ahead to stop 20 feet in front of me… in the bike lane?

    Thanks

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  • hanmade September 11, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Good video, but I didn\’t see any bicyclist, when making lane changes or turns, look over their shoulder before leaving the lane they were in. I don\’t trust my hand signals to work by themselves, I make darn sure of where the drivers behind me are before any lane changes / turns.

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  • BURR September 11, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    if you\’re riding without a rear view mirror of some type you are taking unnecessary risks. looking over your shoulder carries as much or more risk as taking your hands off the handlebars to signal turns. I much prefer to use my right hand to signal a right turn than the \’traditional\’ method, which is only necessary to use if you are in a motor vehicle. NYC uses left side bike lanes explicitly to avoid bus-bike conflicts, among other things.

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  • Meg September 11, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    I\’ve played leapfrog with buses on Williams too .. bleh, no fun. Sometimes if I find myself in a \”leapfrog loop\” I\’ll just stop for a minute and let them get farther ahead. It gives me a momentary break and solves a lot of headaches for both of us.

    I admit I prefer to point the hand of the arm on the side for the direction I want to go (holy awkward sentence, Batman :). It is just much more intuitive for everyone, I think, especially since (if I recall correctly) one of the \”hand up\” signs can be interpreted as \”I\’m stopping\”.

    I would love to get ahold of a set of bike turn signals, personally. :) A little switch by each of the gear shifters that activated a blinking orange arrow pointing each direction, and maybe an extra red light hooked up to the two brake levers would rock. I\’m not so great at keeping stable with only one hand on the handlebars while trying to brake. I\’ve thought about trying to build some before, but laziness has always won so far. I saw some built into a pricey touring recumbent a while back but nowhere else really .. I\’m surprised the idea hasn\’t caught on more.

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  • Donald September 11, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Plus one for right turn/right hand signal. The bike is not the new car.

    Burr, couldn\’t disagree with you more in re mirrors. It is totally possible to keep an awareness of one\’s surroundings using aural cues and methods of looking back which do not take you off-line.

    Thanks to tri-met for the time and energy for the piece.

    Now, can someone explain to me the Tri-Met \”Supervisor\” truck I saw at the Rose Quarter today at 5pm flashing his overhead yellows to run red lights? (and I got an American quarter that says that ain\’t near legal) He did it at two intersections, once cutting off a cyclist and the other cutting off two lanes of approaching traffic. He was about ready to do it a third time to cross Broadway when he spotted a cop. Oddly enough, he waited for the light cycle that time.

    The way I see it, perception cuts both ways.

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  • Oh Word? September 11, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Swanson Thomas & Coon, \’nuff said- but here\’s some good reading with info on that stupid \”yield\” flasher: http://www.stc-law.com/bikesbuses.html

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  • Chad September 11, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Meg, I wonder if turn signals would even be legal.

    -

    On the bus leapfrogging up N Williams I have to say I\’ve only had great experiences with the bus drivers who have been nothing but courtious when in the \”leapfrog loop\”.

    Duncan, if you continually get this mistreatment from a bus on your usually route it is usually the same driver everytime and should be brought to Tri-met\’s attention (remember the time and bus #!!!)

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  • DT September 11, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    @#3

    My only accident (so far) was caused by signaling with my right hand and needing to stop suddenly (left handed stop + front brake = sprawled on the pavement). Ended up in the ER for 5 stitches to my chin, though it could\’ve been much worse.

    In my view, if you are riding in the bike lane, the only people who can see you signal with your right arm are other cyclists, not motorists!

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  • Duncan September 11, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    I have done that. The Hawthorne and division bus drivers seem more agro to me, but that is my biased perception.

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  • Kt September 12, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Oliver, et al who employ the right hand pointing to the right for right turns:

    Did any of you read the Oregon Driver\’s manual?? The method that most if not all car drivers recognize the best as a \”proper\” signal is with the left hand: pointing straight out left for a left turn, 90-degree angle up for a right turn, 90-degree angle down for a stop.

    My main goal in signaling my turns is so the motorized vehicle drivers can know what I\’m doing– secondary goal is so fellow bike riders, skateboards, peds can know what I\’m doing.

    I\’m going to continue using the signaling method that car drivers get taught.

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  • zagreus September 12, 2008 at 9:10 am

    One problem we have when \”leapfrogging\” with a bikes anywhere is our waiting passengers. It does not matter if we honk, wave them back, use firworks or semaphores, once they see a bus stopped and waiting for any reason, they step off the curb and into the path of anyone using the bike lane.

    I have often waited for a passing bike in a lane before pulling into the curb, and have had passengers walk in front of the bike. I always keep the doors closed to exiting passengers until the bike has passed.

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  • peejay September 12, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Thanks, KT. I thought I was the only one who still favored the left-hand version of the right turn signal. It\’s just more predictable and recognizable for most people.

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  • Arem September 12, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Must disagree with you folks on rearview mirrors and turning your head. When you ride a motorcycle, you are explicitly told to turn your dang head and check your dang blind spots! When you are on a bicycle, it should be no different and not all traffic coming up from behind can give aural cues. A Prius can be pretty quiet, as well as other people on bicycles (especially those that like to cruise by within a foot of your hand with no warning via \”On your left!\” or by bell sound). Don\’t find yourself surprised, one should not fix their gaze in one place for too long.

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  • Arem September 12, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Oh, right, I still employ the left hand signal for turning right. I find much more balance and control with my hand still on the right handlebar. Ever hear of counter-steering? Push on the right handlebar to turn right and lean with the bicycle – physics does the rest. :-)

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  • Gregg September 12, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Plus three for the left hand/ right turn \”fist of power\”.

    I find it safest to signal early and for more than a quick flash-of-a-sign. A three second turning signal for 100 feet usually lets people know that you are not waving.
    I PUT MY HANDS BACK ON BOTH HANDLEBARS TO TURN THROUGH THE INTERSECTION- by that point I have already signaled my intention. The couple in the video look silly pointing to the right before, during, and after they make a right hand turn. That is not practical, and not really safe. You can have more control while turning by using both hands.
    And remember, the law says that you have to use your signal only if it is safe to do so. It wouldn\’t be safe to signal that you are stopping (pointing down with left arm and elbow at 90 degrees) if the car in front of you looses its bumper for example.

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  • toddistic September 12, 2008 at 9:24 am

    if you\’re leapfrogging a bus your not going fast enough!!! :-)

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  • Quentin September 12, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Is there anything in the video that wasn\’t already entirely obvious through common sense? Do we really need to be told to look both ways before crossing MAX tracks? Does TriMet really think cyclists are so incompetent that we must dismount our bikes and walk them accross MAX tracks? I thought the overall tone and content of the video was extremely pedantic and condescending.

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  • JE September 12, 2008 at 10:14 am

    I have yet to see a pattern to a Trimet bus driver\’s use of signals.

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  • El Biciclero September 12, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Not that this is a turn signal post, but to those who favor the left hand right turn signal, just be sure to sit up straight and get that left hand UP, not pointing forward as I see from so many riders who ride with a forward-leaning posture.

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  • scoot September 12, 2008 at 11:36 am

    I like the video. Even if it\’s all second nature to me, there are a lot of dingbats out there. It\’s not hard to imagine one of the people I\’ve seen riding the wrong way downtown, in the road, being completely surprised that a tire will slip into a Max track.

    I switch back and forth on the right turn signal. My default is the left arm up, but if I\’m in a far left position on the road and need to move right into a spot in front of other traffic, I point to where I\’m going. Basically, I go with whatever the cars who need to see me can see.

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  • Arem September 12, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    +1 to Gregg #18 and scoot #23

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  • El Biciclero September 12, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Also, mirrors should not be the sole means of checking behind you, but they do help a great deal. I still use my \”rear-view hearer\” quite a bit, and when I actually want to move across a traffic path, I still do a head turn. Yhe mirror helps eliminate unnecessary head turns used to monitor overtaking traffic; I only need to turn my head when I am looking to move.

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  • Illa September 12, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    buses are the most dangerous thing on the road for any cyclist.

    Whoever designed tri-met stops for bus and for max are just flat out retarded. Why have three stops within 100 yards? makes no f\’ing sense. It\’s the number 1 reason I don\’t use public transpo. It takes me 40 minutes to get from Laurelhurst to my work (downtown), and 20 minutes by bike. Why? Because there is a stop a block downtown. What? people can walk 300 feet to a stop? Stupid.

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  • BURR September 12, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    It seems like part of a TriMet driver\’s training should be to spend a few days a month on a bicycle, cycling in areas where they have to interact with busses, it might give them a slightly different perspective on things.

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  • Driveabus September 12, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Not a bad idea. As long as I get my pay for it. And how about bicyclists riding the bus for a few days a month?

    On another note. Eastbound on Madison at 2nd avenue. I go through there at about 730am and nowadays, due to the position of the sun, I get it in the eyes and glare and reflections making it virtually impossible to detect bicyclists on my right until they are within 5 – 10 feet of the rear of my bus. I sit at the light each morning with my right blinker on to get to the stop between 2nd and 1st. I move slowly when I get the green. But right now I just can\’t see high speed bicycles until they are right on me. PLEASE USE CAUTION HERE FOR A WHILE IF PASSING A BUS ON THE RIGHT UNTIL THE SUN CHANGES ITS LOCATION AND REAR VISIBILITY IMPROVES.

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  • Matthew Denton September 12, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    #3&#11: Braking hard with only one hand on the handlebars is bad, the problem isn\’t the front brake. Although, since the back wheel skids fairly easily, you can\’t actually brake hard with just the back brake on most bicycles.

    If you use both brakes at the same time, the back wheel will be locked up, and will travel equally well sideways as forward, and since the front wheel is slowing down, the back wheel tends to come around one side or the other, leading to you turning sideways. And while that is a cool trick, it is much easier to control on dirt or mud than on asphalt, and while you are learning it, you tend to fall over a lot, (so I\’d recommend the dirt or mud for that over the asphalt.) But in any case, it doesn\’t stop you any faster than just using the front brake by itself…

    But my point is: you should learn to properly use the front brake so that you don\’t crash when you use it, and more importantly, so that when you need to stop suddenly, you can.

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  • Matthew Denton September 12, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    #27&#28: Totally agree. I\’ve actually ridden the 44 up Williams just to see what it is like from that standpoint, and it is scary from a bus as well as from a bicycle…

    What they really should so is either move the bicycle lane over to the left side of the street, or put in center board platforms and route the bicycle lane behind them by taking out parking like they do for streetcar stops…

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  • BURR September 12, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    curbside parking is sacred as far as the city is concerned, when are they going to get over that?

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  • M September 12, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    It seems to me that everone hates tri-met. WHY? Do you just like to hate?

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  • joel September 13, 2008 at 8:41 am

    hanmade #5:

    \”Good video, but I didn\’t see any bicyclist, when making lane changes or turns, look over their shoulder before leaving the lane they were in. I don\’t trust my hand signals to work by themselves, I make darn sure of where the drivers behind me are before any lane changes / turns.\”

    hell yeah.

    while i may not be a hand signalling type myself the vast majority of the time, in my experience (and its copious, trust me), the overwhelming majority of hand-signalling types i see out there treat the hand signal as erecting some sort of forcefield around them, as if once youve flashed a hand signal, all potential hazards from behind you will automatically disappear, all drivers will automatically know that youre going to swerve all the way across the freaking road and yield to you, and the heavenly host will smile down upon you with trumpets and angels and organ music and light – because you are In The Right ™.

    i spend all day on the road, 4+ days a week, in traffic, and i tell you, i find this far worse than all the red light/stop sign running and whatnot – this seemingly unshakeable belief in the awesome power of the hand signal. i feel VERY lucky to have not seen someone get mowed down like this. the sheer oblivious-ness of it drives me mad.

    all you hand-signalling types out there – look over your shoulder first!!! that little rear-view mirror doesnt cut it – the blind spots on those things are HUGE. hell, i guarantee you that my spidey-sense as far as the cars around me is better than yours, and *i* do the quick look. its not hard, and it might save your life.

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  • BURR September 13, 2008 at 9:24 am

    there are no blind spots in a helmet mirror, there are no pillars and posts like in a car and you can do a complete scan of the road behind you with relatively small head movements.

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  • Icarus Falling September 13, 2008 at 10:21 am

    I agree with Joel.

    There is a sort of complacency that appears to follow use of a helmet mounted mirror. Also I know that many who signal by hand do not turn their head before changing lanes.

    I see it all the time.

    And this idea is reinforced above by Burr\’s comment. #34

    Nothing, and I mean nothing, takes the place of, or protects you more than, a head check.

    Unless you make a second head check.

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  • BURR September 13, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    nevertheless, there are no blind spots if you are using a helmet mirror correctly, that\’s a fallacy

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  • Marc September 13, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    For any Trimet drivers etc. reading this, I just wanted to say that while I\’m sure there are still some problem drivers, based on my experience as a cyclist your respect for cyclists has been getting better and better the last five years. I think maybe improved training and/or retirement of hostile drivers has helped.
    On the other hand, so has my sticking more and more to low volume roads, and my odd work hours permitting me to avoid rush hour. My heart goes out to the cyclists who have to deal with rush hour in congested areas – including the mad mad Williams and Vancouver, bike lanes or not – and also to careful drivers who have to deal with cyclists to zoom through stops then yell at drivers when they almost get hit. I can see where driving can be stressful too — not that I sympathize that much with car ownership (oh yeah, I know, fact of life etc).
    Well I\’m rambling.. umm.. Trimet drivers, try to give us at least four feet or more, even going into the next lane a bit if it is safe. You\’re big, heavy and scary. But I think more and more drivers are doing that.

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  • wsbob September 13, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    zagreus #14, this might sound silly, but is there any way it might be possible and helpful to have a reader-board in the window immediately to the side of the entrance/exit doors of the bus, visible to people both inside and outside(not that big; maybe 6\” by 22\”) that would flash \’Watch for Bikes!\’, or \’Watch for traffic!\’when a driver detects a bike in the situation you describe?

    Maybe it should just flash automatically whenever passengers exit/enter the bus, for whatever side traffic might be approaching.

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  • joel September 13, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    burr – ok, maybe blind spot isnt the proper term. what im meaning to say is that you shouldnt assume that a helmet or bar mount rear-view mirror gives you a full view of what is behind you. none of the ones i have ever used give you a complete view of whats back there – sure, you can move your head around and cover the entire area, one section at a time… but looking in the rear-view mirror doesnt replace looking over your shoulder in a car, and it shouldnt replace it on a bike, either.

    (hell, that typically left-side-mounted dinky rear-view sure as hell wont catch any number of moron cyclists who like to pass on the right when parking spots or bus zones open up next to the bike lane. one of my *other* pet peeves…)

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  • BURR September 14, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    I\’m not talking about bar mirrors, they are limited in their effectiveness. But you can easily do a full 180-degree + scan with a helmet mirror, including to see who is coming up on your right side. a left-side shoulder check will not do this for you, either.

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  • Zagreus September 15, 2008 at 7:21 am

    WS, that is not a bad idea. I can suggest it to the BTA.

    I make a verbal announcement to deboarding passengers. Too many passengers have on headphones or are just zoned out, and I could tell them that the sky was falling, and they would not hear me.

    Part of the solution is to educate passengers–do not board until the bus is to the curb, unless the driver motions you to proceed. Would external announcements help bicyclists?

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  • wsbob September 15, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Zag, glad you think the idea is worth a thought. I can\’t say for sure about external announcements, but maybe so…

    Another somewhat related example of announcement I\’ve come to really appreciate are the talking crosswalk signals. We have them out here in Beaverton at a major in-town thoroughfare.

    I think they came about specifically to respond to the needs of hearing impaired people, but they work so well for hearing able people as well, that I wish crosswalk buttons would have been equipped with them long ago. Without this feature, during a long signal phase, concentration can lapse, and people find themselves standing there blabbing or lost in their thoughts while the \’walk\’ signal commences. The audible voice makes it much easier.

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  • Zagreus September 15, 2008 at 9:24 am

    WS, I just finished e-mailing your idea to my friend on the BTA, who along with being a full time cyclist is also a Tri-Met driver, for his input. I\’ll get back to you once I hear from him.

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  • El Biciclero September 15, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Passengers also need to realize that the city bus is not the school bus. When you ride the bus as a kid, they tell you that when you get off, you should immediately cross in front of the bus if you need to get to the other side of the street. This only works because school buses have the flashing red lights that make it illegal for cars to pass a stopped school bus.

    I almost ran over a lovely gal last week as I was passing a bus on my bike (I was passing on the left, in the next lane over). She just came popping out from in front of the bus, invisible to me until she was 2 steps from being directly in my path. I managed to skid to a stop before running into her, but she didn\’t even flinch. Good thing I wasn\’t driving that day–and that there were no cars close behind me.

    Here are a couple of quotes from the \”How to Ride\” page of trimet.org (emphasis mine):

    \”8. Gather all your personal items and leave through the exit door at the rear. Step away from the bus and wait until it leaves before crossing the street.\”

    …and from the \”For Your Safety\” section:

    \”Never cross in front of a bus unless it is stopped at a red light.\”

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  • Zagreus September 16, 2008 at 11:05 am

    El, it is posted on every bus not to cross in front of the bus when exiting, period. This is because people can\’t see around a bus, and if someone is passing the bus, be it a bike or an automobile, bad things happen to you.

    I acutally had an on duty police car pass me when I was stopped on Albina at 27th going towards Swan Ialand with no lights or siren. If someone had been in the crosswalk in front of the bus, he would have hit them.

    Safety is everyone\’s responsibility.

    WS, I haven\’t heard from my BTA friend yet.

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  • Zaphod September 16, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I am hearing some crazy misinformation regarding braking. To stop aggressively, modulate both brakes and shift weight back. It is true the the front tire/brake will *still* account for approximately 70% of your stopping power but you shouldn\’t just abandon the other 30%.

    I\’m guessing most readers already know these things but felt it worth mentioning.

    It is important to know how much pressure will cause the rear wheel to skid. It\’s also important to know how much pressure on the front brake will send you over the bars or cause the front tire to wash out. Of course traction changes from moment to moment so \”reading\” the surface is a good skill to have as well.

    Some high end bikes take the front/rear differences into account and the front brake is more powerful than the back so even hand pressure front/rear is closer to the correct amount then the 70/30% data would suggest.

    Signal *then* brake. That video does some things right but the turn with hands out it comical.

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  • Kt September 17, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    +1 on head-check and not relying solely on a mirror to tell you what\’s around you… I mean, my helmet-mounted mirror is pretty small, and while I\’m pretty good at seeing stuff, I wouldn\’t want it to be on only visual information! :)

    When signaling right turns while riding my road bike, Ishtar, I sit up. I think it\’s a poor choice to be down in the drops taking the turns like a crazy racer… and ditto for cars taking turns the same way! :)

    Mostly, it comes down to common sense… which isn\’t.

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