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This blog will put you inside a TriMet bus operator’s head

Posted by on November 23rd, 2015 at 3:29 pm

driversside

Perspective is everything.

If I’ve learned anything in 10 years of blogging about bikes it’s that empathy for other people’s views is the key to quality discourse, policymaking, and reporting. Heck, I’d even say that walking, riding, and driving in someone else’s shoes might be the most powerful way for us to improve road culture in general.

That’s one reason I’m happy to have come across a new (to me) blog written by a TriMet bus operator.

For two and-a-half years now the From the driver’s side blog has offered what its author, The Deacon in Blue, calls, “Musings from a contemplative bus operator’s point of view.”

From what I’ve read so far, the blog offers important insights into what it’s like to operate a TriMet bus on Portland’s busy streets.

I first heard about it thanks to a reader who emailed us an excerpt from a post published yesterday titled, Blame sharing for tragic incidents. In that post The Deacon (I don’t know his/her real name) offers thoughts after a woman lost her leg following a collision with a MAX train on November 16th.

Here are The Deacon’s candid frustrations about how operators are often blamed, regardless of the circumstances of a collision:

“People just act as if the world around them is responsible for their safety, and if they wear earbuds it’s up to someone else to watch out for them. Bicyclists especially are guilty of taking foolish chances around transit vehicles. However, when we alert them of our presence with a firm “beep beep” of our horn, their idea of thanks is often an extended middle finger. Oh, how I’d love to bend those fingers back until I hear a “snap”, just to teach them a lesson! But no. Can’t do that. We’re not allowed to respond. At all.”

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Frustration with people’s lack of caution while sharing roads with buses is a common theme of The Deacon’s posts:

“Yes, I get a bit testy when the public, or the media, questions our “safety training”. It’s quite adequate, thank you. The public’s, however, is severely lacking.”

While some of you might not appreciate that tone, The Deacon ends the post with some heartfelt words:

“Even though this post seems a bit hard-hearted toward the dear lady who lost her leg recently, I can safely say that all operators feel terrible this happened. Especially me. Whenever we hear about an injury, or a fatality, you can be assured that at least a thousand operator voices are raised in prayer for the victim and family. We’re human, we truly care about our riding public.

Pay attention folks. We sure do.”

After a fatal collision involving a TriMet bus on SE 82nd last year, The Deacon wrote:

Our operators are easily some of the most challenged, most maligned, and most safety-conscious, of any in the world. We safely transport nearly 350,000 people daily. Impatient motorists cut us off, oblivious of the danger. We share very narrow streets with pedestrians who dart out in front of our buses and light rail vehicles, and we manage to avoid hitting 99% of them. Skateboarders, bicyclists, people using mobility devices… we safely share the streets with them. We’re always on the lookout for those who either refuse, or don’t know how, to safeguard themselves.

I plan to read more of The Deacon’s posts because without actually driving a bus myself, it’s a great way to gain some perspective about what’s like to pilot a large bus on city streets.

And in case you were wondering, the Deacon is not the first TriMet bus operator we’ve heard from. There’s Dan Christensen, the very outspoken (and funny) operator who was placed on administrative leave in 2010 after writing blog post titled “Portland! Kill This Bicyclist!” There’s also the gonzo blogging of Al Margulies who writes Rantings of a TriMet Bus Driver.

All these voices help bring perspective to bike-bus relations. The more, the merrier I say.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

I’m almost certain that Tri-Met’s not-hitting-pedestrians rate is better than 99%.

I enjoyed looking through this operator’s blog. My own interactions with Tri-Met operators, as a transit user, a pedestrian, a cyclist, and even (in the past) as a driver, have tended to be very positive. I see the evidence of their safety and courtesy training all the time.

Adam
Subscriber

Uhh, thanks for doing your job, I guess? Stop telling people walking that it’s their responsibility to keep themselves safe; you’re the one operating the huge bus on small city streets. Oh, and advocating violence against people riding bikes? No thanks.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Much better than Al’s blog, which is just a disgruntled ex-employee pitching sour grapes at Trimet.

soren
Guest
soren

Oh, how I’d love to bend those fingers back until I hear a “snap”, just to teach them a lesson!

A call for empathy in the context of this kind of sadism from a public servant is absurd. Imagine the response that a PBOT active transportation division employee would provoke if they publicly fantasized about bludgeoning a driver with a u-lock.

Mollie
Guest
Mollie

I generally find TriMet drivers to be very conscientious of me when I’m riding in close proximity. I think they do an amazing job keeping everybody safe while operating such large vehicles. Great to read about this right after reading the New Yorker article Cars vs. Bikes vs. Pedestrians that was linked this morning. I plan to poke around the TriMet driver’s blog; I always appreciate the chance to understand another road user’s perspective.

realworld
Guest
realworld

just to teach them a lesson! But no. Can’t do that. We’re not allowed to respond. At all.”

Really now. interesting observation… it just so happens when I was riding down NW 6th ave through downtown (which btw is a 2 lane, one way left side vehicle lane and a right side bus lane with buffers between the two) I’m on my cargo bike with lights “flashing” bright yellow helmet and (ironically enough) transit blue rain jacket. A “Bus” driver decides he wants out of the bus lane and into the lane I am occupying. As he slowly lumbers by me as I start accelerating from a green light, he turns his signals on and starts to join me in the lane I am occupying with my lights flashing and “hi-vis” clothing on… but hmmm “he doesn’t see me” so I yell as loud as possible “HEY GET OUT OF MY LANE!”
He paused his encroachment long enough for me to pass him and get in front… so what happened next you ask?
He gave me the finger while I sat at the light at Burnside while he took a right onto Burnside!

So I was the A-hole here?!

Bus drivers are not allowed to respond… my A$$!

pink$$
Guest
pink$$

I recall somewhere in the Oregon Drivers Manual advising against using your horn to get cyclists’ attention or “warn them you’re there.” It is an incredibly aggressive and unnecessary signal that, as the blogger notes, many don’t appreciate. In no mode of transportation I’ve ever taken have I considered that a gracious gesture.

I can appreciate the driver’s frustration with discourteous drivers/passengers/etc, but imagining breaking someone’s fingers (and recognizing its culturally okay because they’re talking about a cyclist) is just violent. They’re talking about VRUs here… a cyclist flipping them off is not the same thing as cutting them off or crossing in front of them, making conditions less safe for anyone.

I’ve been on a bus where the frustrated (and stressed out because we were a half hour behind schedule) driver directed ALL of their rage at the commuters on Williams… And pretty much didn’t stop honking/verbally abusing them between Broadway and Fremont. After reading a couple of this driver’s posts, I’m struck by how frequently they disparage other road users for being stupid or “taking dumbass pills.” Maybe their safety training is adequate, but their empathy training sure isn’t.

Keviniano
Subscriber
Keviniano

In the last few months I’ve started using TriMet buses on the weekends to go on adventures with my toddler. Before that I hardly ever got on the bus. I have to say I’ve developed a solid appreciation for the challenges of operating a bus. They are, in effect, professionals who have as part of their job description the task of being figuring out how not to be distracted drivers, when to me the job seems like it’s ALL distraction. I’m really impressed with how many of them juggle it all AND manage to stay warm and empathetic with all the folks who have special needs, be they wheelchairs, bikes, strollers, or whatever. What a job!

I think the “most maligned” statement is a bit over-the-top, though. I personally don’t see operators as personally maligned. Buses are maligned by car drivers who can only see them as obstacles to get around and who don’t give a thought to all the riders they serve. The operators are not even considered to exist, much less maligned. Maybe he’s talking about all the union-management conflicts of the last few years?

John Liu
Subscriber

TriMet buses are the safest vehicles to cycle near, by, or around.

They move slowly. Their maneuvers are extremely predictable. Their drivers check mirrors before pulling out.

A cyclist who can’t avoid an accident with a TriMet bus is not paying any attention.

Lets remind ourselves: absolutely no training is required, before someone can get on a bike and ride in the city. It shouldn’t be surprising that some small minority of cyclists are careless, incompetent, or clueless. They probably get in accidents more often than other cyclists. Are those accidents ever “their fault”? Of course, sometimes, the cyclist is at fault. Even when a bus is involved.

Yeah, cyclists are “vulnerable”. Guess what. It is possible to be vulnerable, and still be at fault.

Gerald Fittipaldi
Guest
Gerald Fittipaldi

Well, I skimmed a couple more blog entries from this TriMet operator. His victim blaming tendencies are worse than I thought …

To summarize one blog post: He’s driving a taxi car (his second job) and spots a person laying motionless in the middle of the road. A witness is taking the man’s pulse. It turns out the man in the street dies at the scene. Later on Mr. TriMet operator reads an article that the deceased was a pedestrian killed by a motorist under the influence. The driver was charged with “manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, recklessly endangering another person, reckless driving, and driving under the influence of intoxicants.”

Well, well, wouldn’t this be a good time to right a blog post entitled “Use Common Sense to Avoid Tragedy.” Clearly there’s sense in linking this death to all the times that pedestrians “do stupid things,” right? The entire blog entry is a rant about how pedestrians cause accidents.

Think I’m exaggerating? Read the blog post for yourselves: http://fromthedriverside.blogspot.com/2015/11/use-common-sense-to-avoid-tragedy.html

Deacon in Blue
Guest

Thank you Jonathan, for the review. And thank YOU, fellow Portlanders, for your comments here. I don’t usually have a wide audience other than bus operators, so I am very interested in what you have to say, and I truly appreciate your honesty.

My apologies if my musings leave you trembling in fear. I see many of you reacted negatively to the ‘bent fingers’ comment. No, I’m not a violent person. Never have been. Would not have been hired if I had any violent tendencies whatsoever. That statement was not a fact, but it was a figure of speech meant to illustrate how frustrating it can be sometimes to experience a negative experience. Truthfully, how many of you have uttered something that could be construed as violent, when the incident was merely an annoyance? True, it’s over-the-top. But if you were to meet me, chances are golden you’d never believe me to be even minutely ‘violent’. My apologies for that ill-advised comment.

I guess being judged by a panel of bicyclists is fair, since I pick on you guys quite a bit. Just remember, I only pick a few bicyclists out for chastising, and it’s for a very plainly visible reason. If you pick on me, or other bus operators, remember there’s always our side of the story to consider. I want you to be safe, use good judgement, and know that we are (for the most part, 99% of the time) doing our best to keep you happily pedaling down the road.

Peace and safe travels,
DiB

Ian
Guest
Ian

Nathan Vass’s writing about driving a bus in Seattle is quite good. It’s deeply empathetic and humanistic.
http://www.theurbanist.org/category/civics-and-culture/the-view-from-nathans-bus/

Slug
Guest
Slug

As someone who mostly rides trimet while jealousy watching people who are not afraid to bike, I am mostly impressed with how safe and attentive the trimet operators are. During evening rush hour I see them being cut off by what seems like every other auto driver on the road, and I applaud their patience each time they have to hit the brakes after being cut off again. I am also appalled by some of the inherent conflict built in to the infrastructure. That buses constantly have to cross the bike lane to move in and out of their stops is a really bad design. Some of the largest vehicles have to try and ‘swim’ with a crowd of the smallest vehicles. In Seattle they redesigned some of the bus stops to have an island between the bike lane and the bus/main traffic lane to avoid this conflict. I’d love to see Portland do that at all the stops on Madison and Hawthorne in the downtown and SE central area.
Thanks for sharing this blog, its good to get new perspectives to improve my own empathy for all road users.

Al M
Guest

Hey Deacon! Don’t let theses bicyclists bother you! Just keep doing exactly what you’re doing! These people can be dangerous

buildwithjoe
Guest

If this preacher cared about safety he would demand a 24 hour hotline to report Tri-met drivers who put the public at risk. Until then you have to call back in “business” hours. You can’t even leave a message on weekends or nights.

This nameless “Deacon in Blue” seems less concerned with safety and more concerned with assumptions and personal attention.

I’ve got endless evidence that Trimet drivers take avoidable risks near cyclists and pedestrians.

I’ve photographed or evidence of
=================================================
– Street Car drivers eating microwave meals while driving
– Buses frequently pulling into bike boxes long before the green light.
– Buses using the bike lane for long stretches even when they have an open car lane
– Max drivers downtown accelerating towards elderly pedestrians who had a green that seemed to suddenly change red as the max approached.
– Bus driver going 30-35 down a 1 mile stretch of Albina’s 25mph Limit, nearly hit me and car. We both called it in. GPS data validated my speed estimates
– As a bus passenger I recently witnessed a bus make illegal and dangerous maneuvers near a bike. I called it in while riding the bus, but that only works because it was 9AM to 4pm.
– The Trimet violations are endless, and I pretty avoid any bus by 20 feet because there are too many bully drivers.

Do we know if the woman hit by a max train was wearing headphones as a fact? How was that fact determined?

This story feels like feeding the angry person trying to stir up more anger. If we knew his/her name I’d bet we find a higher rate of complaints by bikes and pedestrians who feel unsafe near this person. There are some alarming thoughts and words on this blog. It’s a liability for Trimet if this driver were to be involved in a crash. It would lean towards #crashnoaccident

>> Watch Your Thoughts, They Become Words; Watch Your Words, They Become Actions <<

buildwithjoe
Guest

Quote this deacon: “an 11-year-old girl darted in front of the bus (on Lombard too) she just exited and into the traffic lanes. Even though motorists can’t see around a bus, they speed around us all the time.”

This happened 2 blocks from my house. As did the death caused by a DUI driver. Both in October 2015.

Here is the perspective from my neighbors. Their story:

A girl got off the bus on Lombard. It was stopped at a legal crosswalk. The girl entered the crosswalk. The bus remained stopped. The car driving in the opposite direction had the legal obligation to stop for the pedestrian in a cross walk. The bus driver honked at the girl who was in front of the bus. The car broke the law and hit the child. This is all uncontested evidence.

When you honk at kids they may think you are about to hit them. The bus horn could be the very reason this girl got hit. It could have spooked her and made her move into another lane faster than if there had been no horn.

The police never issued a ticket. Hales staff wrote me and explained not giving a ticket: “there were no citations issued as there was not found to be careless or reckless intent or illegal actions.”

Bjorn
Subscriber
Bjorn

It is always interesting to me that the same person who thinks it is safe to drive a car with the windows up and the radio on thinks earbuds are unsafe for people walking or biking.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Trimet is huge, and like all big organizations- there are good drivers and bad drivers.

But I bet not a single one of you haven’t imagined tossing a u-lock, keying a passing car, grabbing and smashing a drivers cell phone, or tossing something into some ass hats spokes at least once. If you haven’t – happy upcoming b-day on Dec. 25th.

And keep in mind that the meaning of “the Finger” is violent too. Be it the story of the English longbow archers threatening and taunting the French soldiers, or the “F word”, (which originally meant to “beat or punch”) which of course has evolved to be more of a threat of rape than just a sound beating.

buildwithjoe
Guest

Bike Snob NYC quiz.

This author ( Trimet bus driver) considers safety training tripe, which means:

a) rubbish
b) yummy food for thought
c) cow stomach

“One thing about the class that bothered me was a demonstration by someone who works in the “Safety” division. We were subjected to a terribly patronizing video outlining such things as what constitutes a “fall”, or a “trip” and other such things we all learned as children. We listened politely as this chap told us how “safety is our culture”, yet the talk of the town was how this lady had lost her leg when she was hit by a train when she didn’t look before crossing. We all had the same reaction to this corporate double-speak: bullshit. Show this tripe to the riding public.

The use of patronizing here best describes

a) people who pay for bus rides as patrons
b) the way bus drivers view safety training
c) a patron saint for the record 365 dead on Oregon roads this year

Being “subjected” in the mind of this driver might describe

a) The subject matter of the training = safety
b) Being forced into safety training
c) The subject predicate agreement in blog writing culture

http://fromthedriverside.blogspot.com/2015/11/blame-sharing-for-tragic-incidents.html

mark
Guest
mark

I just wasted a perfectly good hour reading that blog. It gave me a new appreciation for what drivers do.

Gerald Fittipaldi
Guest
Gerald Fittipaldi

One thing I will give to the Deacon in Blue is that he appropriately pointed out that the new Orange Line crossings are not safely designed. Here’s a quote from his blog:

“Take our beautiful new Orange Line, for example. Cost to build: $1.5 billion dollars. Yet with all this money, and a supposed ‘safety culture’, the end-of-the-line boarding approaches are straight lines with feeble warnings (on the ground) to ‘Stop and Look’. No herding passengers left, then right, before crossing the tracks; like they have on some of the remodeled approaches on other lines. Brand new line, horrible design where safety is concerned.”

THAT I can agree with. At the heart of Vizion Zero is safe infrastructure. Holland and Sweden are two countries with phenomenal transportation safety records. This is true because they’ve placed a focus on safe street design. They don’t, however, place a focus on the behavior of pedestrians and bicyclists. All of the focus is on the people operating the hunks of metal that can kill. As a result, drivers there are super on their toes. Infrastructure that designs out conflict, combined with harsh penalties on motorists (not peds or cyclists) = hardly any fatalities.

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

Please visit that woman who lost her leg and let her know it wasn’t the fault of her earbuds. Let her know that the mean, evil MAX train should have stopped on a dime when she didn’t look, couldn’t hear it, and stepped in front of it. That will make her feel a lot better, right?

Deacon in Blue
Guest

You are the exception to the norm, then. Most people I see with the buds are jamming so loud they can’t hear a thing. Unfortunately, that’s what we have to assume when we see someone with ear buds not paying attention.

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

Did the Deacon In Blue actually think he could come in here and win a comment war against BP’s finest?

Cycledadpdx
Guest
Cycledadpdx

Two things:
1) over heard two Trimet fair inspectors talking about how under qualified most of their drivers are. Apparently there is a bunch of new recruits soon to be driving buses because they are short staffed. The FI was not thrilled with this.

2) I had the #77 almost run me over this morning because it needed to get to its stop. Instead of stopping and waiting it matched my speed and moved into me. I have had bus operators stop,open the bus door and yell at me that they don’t have the space because the road is not built like that. I would say more bikes and less Trimet!

Deacon in Blue
Guest

Thank you ALL for your comments. Some left me shaking my head, others have strong points for us all to consider. I appreciate the feedback, good or bad. Just remember, we’re not always the ‘bad guy’. I’m not always right, and you’re not always wrong. Peace and safety be with you all.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Not sure what to make of this one:

http://fromthedriverside.blogspot.com/2015_02_01_archive.html

“One lil’ sprite of about seven was riding his bike just behind his mother’s as we crossed Weidler. At this point, the bike lane crosses left over the traffic lane. Keeping the two bikes ahead of me, I eased into the right lane as we slowly approached Broadway. Mom hogged the center of the bike lane, so Lil’ Fella was outside in the traffic lane. I gave the horn a beep-beep, a driver’s friendly way of saying “Hey, there’s a bus behind you in case you weren’t aware!” Mom looked back and saw what she thought was my bus bearing down on her son, and gave me a “You’re an asshole” glare. Because she did this, she almost missed the yellow-to-red light at the intersection and stopped just short of becoming the hood ornament of a cross-traffic delivery truck. Then the banter began. She was ahead of me a bit, and over the noise of traffic and my Gillig, I think the conversation went something like this:

Her: You don’t need to be such a jerk.

Me: Sorry ma’am, I was just trying to alert you of my presence. Your son…

Her: I don’t need you telling me about my son!

Me: I’m not trying to argue, or be a jerk, just wanted to tell you he was in the traffic lane and I honked to let you know I was there. That’s all, not trying to argue or anything. Just a teaching moment here.

Her: (She hangs her head a second, then instructs her son to stay in the bike lane. He appeared to tell her to make room for him or something like that.) Oh, okay, sorry.

Me: It’s okay, I just don’t want to see the little guy get hurt. It’s my job to help keep y’all safe out here. Have a nice day, be safe!”

It reads like Deacon is a little horn-happy.

Seth
Guest
Seth

Its amazing to me that there aren’t more issues with buses with the amount of abuse they get lobbed at them every day. In a given week I’ll take all three transportation options (drive, take transit, and bike) and can say transit seems to have the most predictable, least dangerous habits. Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective!

As for everyone concerned about the “middle finger” comment, how many times have we heard cyclists only half-jokingly suggest pulling out their u-lock on motorists? Isn’t stashing a u-lock on your left hip “just in case” just as bad? (And yes, I know not everyone with a ulock on their hip feels that way… sheesh)

mark
Guest
mark

Dear Deacon in Blue, unlike some of the readers here, I spent over an hour reading through your blogs. Sure, some of them aren’t politically correct..especially for some here who demand that all writings stroke their ego and put them to sleep with sweet nothings. Your writings are your truth and I took no threat from them at all.

Kids are dumb (hence, kids). They are foolish, they walk into traffic and people on bikes (NOT CYCLISTS) ride foolishly and demand the world around them stop. I agree with that. Someone who has ridden or driven almost every conveyance that’s road legal without a special sign on it…people who walk, people who bike and people who drive..can be clueless.

I have been clueless on occasion.

We need to watch out for eachother vs. demonizing each other.

Keep going on your blog. But..I do caution you…I suspect there are people on bikeportland who are already so incensed..they are working overtime to ID you and out you…because you didn’t tow their line. However, I enjoyed your writings immensely. It was a breath of fresh air.

Al M
Guest

And I want to set the record straight. Not only am I a “gonzo blogger” and “disgruntled ex Trimet employee” but I am also a “bully” and a “stalker” depending on who you talk to. Lots of people don’t like what I have to say.
That’s because I don’t depend on advertising or have any financial entanglements with various government entities. I have no problem sicking a penis on the head of Trimet general manager Neil Mcfarlane and mocking the Portland “leaders” (term used losely).

Just for the record

Tom
Guest
Tom

The only issueI have with buses is that sometimes they don’t turn on the yield light triangle. I see it’s off and bus appears to be loading, pass the back then turn light goes on, engine roars, and I have to do an unplanned lane change or break hard…neither a good idea. The yield light works great if it comes a few secs or more before the turn light.
Why is it not always used though. This might actually be the same bus since my schedule is regular… I don’t catch the bus number.

Please someone advise what to do.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

One of my issues with TriMet is failure of most bus operators to yield the lane, or at least slow down and not try to pass on N. Interstate under the Larrabee St overpass by the Rose Quarter. Getting buzzed by a 30+ MPH bus in a two foot bike lane with storm drains and manhole covers in it is no fun at all! Bus needs to read the sign, slow down, and be patient. The overpass pinchpoint is only a few feet long, and it won’t kill the driver to slow to 15 mph and wait an extra couple of seconds, but it may just kill the cyclist.

mark
Guest
mark

soren
Deacon honked as he approached a young man legally cycling next to his mother. Can you please explain how this could possibly be construed as a reasonable warning? (Did some strange electromagnetic force render Deacon’s brakes non-functional?)Recommended 1

You are really hung up on the horn. Wow.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

I don’t hear a recognition here of just how awful Portlanders in public can be, or have become. Having lived here all my life, I’ve had a window seat view of the changes. For example, in restaurants in Portland in recent years I’ve gotten in the habit of hastily exiting any place I see Portland parents moseying into w/ their toddlers in tow. Too many of these poor kids have NEVER been told ‘no,’ and the parents take the offensive if you dare to suggest Pinecone stop walking on the furniture and screaming and running into the waiters. This is a relatively new phenomenon here, something that arrived with the city’s outsize popularity. I’ve noticed a dramatic rise in rudeness and narcissistic behavior–esp. in the late 2000s to now.

I have a problem with bad manners, self-entitlement and self-serving stupidity being excused, and I think it’s disingenuous to downplay just how ridiculously self-absorbed Portlanders have become–a heinous trait that’s reflected in the way we all get around, as though in a mirrored bubble. I can barely stand to walk in Portland anymore. People don’t even regard basic rules, like “walk on the right” and “don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk in heavy foot traffic” or “Don’t make me walk in the ditch so you and your 5 dogs on extendo-leashes can enjoy the sidewalk.” The narcissistic ear-budded iPhoned bumbling careless fools don’t deserve death; but come on! Let’s not equate Portland’s population with the average city’s citizenry. Let’s acknowledge just how difficult it would be to have to drive a bus HERE, with so many ‘special’ and ‘exceptional’ human beings (‘Portland rewls!’)–as Jonathan seems to appreciate and Deacon actually experiences. I don’t know if everyone’s actually high here all the time now, but sometimes it looks and feels like it to me.

I’ve noticed that when I go only as far out of Portland as Tigard, I can enjoy a meal with a roomful of parents and kids of all ages–and kids are being kids, but because parents are parenting, it’s all ok–no 30-minute, unaddressed screamathons, no running and smashing and food throwing. Even biking in Milwaukie I notice pedestrians and cyclists show better awareness of shared space on the shoulder and act accordingly. Better manners are in evidence outside of the Portland bubble, generally, and far fewer people are navigating the world with their heads in their phones, aka up their own hinds.

John Liu
Subscriber

The venting is entertaining, but I’d like to discuss specific tips for cyclists to ride more safely around buses.

Here is one, to start us off.

1. When a cyclist comes up behind a bus waiting at a bus stop, and decides to pass the stationary bus on the left, the cyclist should move to the next lane to the left, or at least to the left edge of the curbside lane, long before reaching the bus. In that position, the cyclist is visible when the bus driver looks in his left side mirror. I sometimes see cyclists ride directly behind the bus, completely hidden in the driver’s blind spot, until they are right on the bus’ rear edge, then suddenly swerve left to pass very close to the bus’ left side. Those riders are not visible in the driver’s mirror, and the driver preparing to pull out has no way of knowing the cyclist is about to appear just inches from the bus’ left rear corner.

Jared Smith
Guest
Jared Smith

Thanks for providing the discussion. I also drive Trimet. Lots of frustrations as to where the blame belongs. In my world it belongs with the smaller vehicle. If you value your life, you give up the right of way – legal or not, to the Bus. Don’t ride along side of it, don’t run out the back door to grab your bike from the rack. These Buses are not SAFE for traffic. The mirrors and pillars block our vision. Trimet doesn’t care as was proven by the Sandi Day case. They refused to resolve the blind spots and mirrors then and now. Additionally, Trimet has done a massive hiring and throwing newbies to the streets way before they’re ready. They’re scraping the bottom of the barrel so you get what you get. Blind spots, lack of experience, expectations as to who’s in the right- not good.

Also, thanks to BikePortland for taking the time to read “From the Drivers Side.” I would like to see this guy or a few other Operator cyclists advocate a regular column on this site.

Lastly, I find it amusing that Alyourpalster, the ex Trimet disgruntled gonzo blogger takes a great informative discussion and tries to turn it around to himself. WOW – is he Narcissist or what?!!

mark
Guest
mark

Some cities build bike paths around bus stops in order to avoid the whole bus rodeo thing.

Let’s see the “best biking city” do that.