Close call with Bus 5666 on Route 75 Ellsworth Ave
I daily commute to work by bicycle. Bus #5666 stopped behind me at the light on Ellsworth and Aiken. On the approach to Copeland, the driver of the bus attempted to overtake me without enough space before the lanes narrowed. The driver swerved forcefully as the lane narrowed at Copeland, forcing me off the road.
I wish I could say this is all that happened. But what happened next can only be seen as aggression and an intentional attempt to injure a commuter on the part of the bus driver. Soon I encountered the bus again at the stop sign at Adler and College (I was traveling East on Adler, the bus South on College). I waved to bus driver who stopped in the middle of the intersection to open his door and berate me. Cars began honking as the bus sat in the intersection. I said to the driver, “thank you for running me off the road.” He yelled in response, “you were taking up too much of the road and I have a camera to prove it, asshole!” At this he drove off. The driver passed me again on Shady/Adler.
I am shocked at the aggression, both physically and verbally, of this driver who operates the most dangerous vehicle on the city’s streets. Commuters, especially those following traffic laws which I was, should be able to get to their destination without being endangered by bus drivers who are seeking to run them off the road and possibly injure or kill them.
#5574, the 75 on Ellsworth came within 6 inches of hitting me yesterday. What time was it? This happened to me at 4:05pm. See the “cyclist hit downtown” thread. I asked for the info to call to complain.
This happened at 6:55am this morning. I have filled out the Port Authority’s complaint form – http://www.portauthority.org/paac/CompanyInfoProjects/CustomerService/Feedback.aspx
[edit: Port Authority’s ghastly website strikes again. Here’s a direct link to the complaint form: http://www.portauthority.org/paac/apps/webcomments/pgcomment.asp?t=con ]
They probably end up in roughly the same place, if not with the same speed of routing… Please do let us know what response, if any, you receive.
You can also reach PAT’s independent police department, which has jurisdiction over any incident involving Authority staff or equipment, at 412-255-1385 or, as Marko suggested in the other thread, by calling 911 and asking to report an incident with a PAT bus.
Must be in the air. I got buzzed frighteningly close by a 31 this afternoon. I have helmet cam video that I’m looking forward to sending their way.
I got aggressively buzzed by a 75 bus as I was stopping for the red light that it was blowing off on 5th ave uptown earlier this week – it may have been that same driver.
I meant to report him, but then I got to work and they wanted me to actually DO things. Jeez.
Now I feel bad, because a few independent reports should do something. I guess. Maybe. Is there any indication that PAT reads their feedback, these days?
Mick wrote:Is there any indication that PAT reads their feedback, these days?
I reported about a month ago a bus that failed to yield and nearly hit someone in a crosswalk–and in order to do so had passed several cars that had yielded to the pedestrian (itself a violation of state law). I got this canned response:
Thank you for contacting Port Authority with your concerns with the 61B Braddock service. Please accept our apology for any inconvenience you may have experienced. Your information will be forwarded to the Director of Service Delivery at our West Mifflin Division.
I’m going to go with ‘qualified maybe’ on that one…
Yeah, it’s kind of like sending it into a black hole. But hope springs eternal.
That is the response I got as well. Nearly getting run over was an “inconvenience”? Sounds like a cut and pasted reply with the bus number stuck in.
Does PAT have some individual responsible for tracking biker issues?
Does BikePgh have a contact at PAT? You know, that whole advocacy thing.
How complicated can this be?
A cyclist got hit by a PAT bus today on S. Highland (or so I assume, there was PAT police and Pittsburgh police and a bus pulled off to the side), across from the Home Depot. Orange road bike, when I passed, the cyclist was being loaded onto a backboard and getting his head and neck stabilized.
Any more info?
I got the same standard response – “Please accept our apology for any inconvenience you may have experienced.”
What is most alarming is that the bus driver opened his doors to call me an asshole for being in the road. These are not accidental incidents – these bus drivers are actively and intentionally seeking to harm cyclists.
They are professional drivers and should act like it. It’s shocking that incidents like these aren’t taken seriously.
time to start collecting helmet cam footage and alert the local media about DANGEROUS BUS DRIVERS!!!! ARE YOU AT RISK ON THE ROAD?!?!?!
Same response. Blerg. I’m giving them until next week to give me a real response and then I’m escalating. Not sure yet right now.
You know, it might be helpful to keep track of these complaints. I’m not a lawyer, but wouldn’t PAT be more liable for damages if someone injured or their heirs can show that they knew their drivers were being aggressive and they did nothing about it?
@jonawebb, all the more reason to go through 911 instead of their “complaint” system. Every 911 call it is tracked and accessible through FOIA. It also shows the seriousness of the situation. If someone pointed a gun at you would you call a complaint line?
The more I read on these boards, the more I’m convinced there’s an absolutely colossal cultural problem within PAT; a deep seated hostility toward cycling and cyclists that we’re only seeing the edges of with these reports, and that starts either at the very top or at least very near it and exists unchallenged.
This HAS to change. How much can our (likely) new Mayor do here a few months hence?
the mayor doesn’t have much power over PAT, the county executive on the other hand, has a lot of influence. I’d direct my activism at Fitz rather than Bill.
byogman wrote:How much can our (likely) new Mayor do here a few months hence?
Next to nothing. The Port Authority is a semi-independent, quasi-governmental organization chartered by the state for all of Allegheny County. ACE Fitzgerald, who appoints its Board of Directors and CEO, is the one to go after here.
What about this: requesting an invitation to speak to the board of directors. Maybe?
I don’t think it should necessarily be about one case, but collecting the (unfortunate) wealth of sometimes anecdotes, sometimes a lot more (the best documented incident being in this thread: http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/last-sundays-misadventure), there’s a pretty clear picture of something pretty rotten. Or maybe this is something bike-pgh as an organization needs to be on (if not already).
Or maybe Fitz directly. I don’t know how these %^&* things work. Gah!
Or maybe Fitz directly. I don’t know how these %^&* things work. Gah!
That’s the idea. The more confusing it is, the less they’ll have to answer to the public.
I suspect that the problem isn’t that Port Authority management doesn’t care, but rather that union work rules prevent them from taking any meaningful action to discipline drivers who endanger cyclists. Which would mean, unfortunately, that it will be even harder to get the drivers to change their behavior.
I somehow doubt that unions are the evil enablers that cause bus drivers to sadistically molest hapless cyclists. I mean, c’mon… you’ve been listening to the wrong people.
What unions will do is prevent arbitrary firings and disciplinary actions that are unrelated to job performance. Bad drivers are simply bad people that have to be identified and dealt with. Workers who deliberately undermine the enterprise harm both the company and the workers. Both entities have an interest in dealing with these people.
The right thing to do is identify and report bad drivers to PAT (which we’re doing). PAT will deal with it, eventually. If it takes repeated demands, that doesn’t mean that unions are out to screw you; it’s just the way these large organizations work.
It might also be a useful idea to reach out to the union and suggest that maybe they could better educate their members about all this cyclist stuff.
My guess is that it is the way the drivers are being evaluated, and their response to it, that is the problem here. I would be willing to bet that on-time arrival is a major factor in a driver’s performance rating. Naturally, they see anything interfering with that as a problem. None of this justifies them intimidating or threatening cyclists, or pushing them off the road. But it seems to me the place to go is their management, which is Fitzgerald and the Allegheny County Council. You might be able to get more response from your particular councilperson than from Fitzgerald. And it also makes sense to report incidents to 911, for the reason Marko mentioned, and to make sure that genuinely threatening behavior is treated with the seriousness it deserves.
i had a 75 follow me almost the entire length of ellsworth today. i took the god damn lane until i got past ALLLLL the parked cars and then moved over and waved him past me. then i wound up sitting next to him at neville.
I get buzzed on Ellsworth more than anywhere else, which is ridiculous (only eastbound, strangely). I don’t get it, but it has happened A LOT.
Now, I always take the whole lane there–anyone who thinks s/he needs to fly down a tiny, heavily pedestrian-ed street faster than I can go on my bike can suck it. (It’s amazing how nearly getting hit multiple times can raise one’s hackles.)
Had a giant red SUV (PA plate GFT 5022…) honk at me for not getting in the bike lane on EB Friendship, then speed past me gesticulating wildly and (I assume) yelling, though he forgot to roll down the windows so I have no idea what he was saying. Of course, he proceeded to prove my point by being unable to keep his comically oversized vehicle out of the bike lane…
He did at least give me four feet when he passed, or close to it.
I never mind when they honk. Shows they see me, aren’t going to run me over. I usually move to take the lane more assertively in response to their courtesy.
That’s thing people don’t get about claiming the lane. It’s about being safe, not being a jerk. It’s often necessary partially because so many drivers are wildly oblivious to anything not within two degrees of straight ahead but especially because of the smaller number of drivers are real jerks who will pass no matter what danger they create in doing so, so you have to make the only conceivable passing opportunity a time when there’s a full lane clear to do it.
I wish I could just get drivers to understand this one point. Would make life on the roads so much better because right now, as the second, but most visible link in the chain of motorist frustration, lane claiming the lane makes people angry. With the dots connected, maybe some motorists would get it. Maybe some would care about 4ft law enforcement, for instance.
jonawebb wrote:I never mind when they honk. Shows they see me, aren’t going to run me over. I usually move to take the lane more assertively in response to their courtesy.
This wasn’t a polite ‘hey, i’m behind you’ beep-beep, this was a loud, aggressive ‘you’re in my way’ honk. And yes, if you honk behind me, I will make sure I take the entire lane, since I assume you’re going to blow past me if i give you an inch.
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