I was passed by a bus today….

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Erica
Participant
#

I was on fifth between Smithfield and Grant, as far right as I could safely be on the small incline. The bus that had been behind me for a block or two passed me with maybe 8″ of clearance in the pouring rain. Then was stopped at the red light less than 50 ft later.

I was startled, a little scared, so I hopped on the sidewalk so I could get in front of the bus, (giving a “sorry!” to a group of people walking, they didn’t seem to know why I was apologizing.) I gave the driver the finger (probably shouldn’t have, but all I could think was that if I’d slipped, I had no room to go anywhere but under the tires), and looked him in the face while repeating his number, then waited until he had a green light, and crossed the street in front of him before he could go.

I called Port Authority to report them. 1:45pm, 500 outbound, number was either 5571 or 5572.

Lately, I’ve been getting passed with far too little clearance a LOT more than usual, it seems. Just this morning, I let someone pass me because the other lane was empty, and they gave me the same 8″ of clearance. I couldn’t think of anything to do, so I yelled “THREE FEET” really loud.


bikefind
Participant
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I’m really glad you yelled “3 feet” and that you yelled it loud. That’s way better than anything I’d have come up with under that kind of stress.

I had a bus fly by me at what felt like non-existant clearance a few weeks ago while I was climbing up Shady (from 5th toward Squirrel Hill). It was gone before I could get any data, not that I was in any state to remember any numbers, or think of what I needed to get, or write, etc. Felt like I’d been assaulted, getting kind of shaky just remembering.

Sorry to hear you’re dealing with this stuff repeatedly. Glad you had (and took) the opportunity to let the driver know it wasn’t ok with you.


scott
Keymaster
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Glad you’re ok. Thanks for calling this in!


Ahlir
Participant
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I can never figure out whether drivers do these things deliberately or whether they’re just being oblivious. It’s hard to tell unless they start yelling at you (in my case, that hasn’t happened all that much.)

I find that my reaction is to take the lane. I get out from the curb to make sure that the next guy doesn’t just copy the one who grazed me.

But for each stretch of road that this has happened to me, I now automatically take the lane (better safe than sorry). Significantly, motorists don’t give me a hard time about it. So I’m inclined to believe that obliviousness is the issue.


JZ
Participant
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I get this almost every day on Penn Ave. I don’t even bother to call. The couple of times I’ve confronted drivers, they’ve told me they don’t belong on roads. After the last time I tried to report a complaint, and 911 told me to GFM, I gave up.

I’ll feel a lot safer when Port Authority finally goes bankrupt.


salty
Participant
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In 2009, 507 cyclists were killed by passenger cars and trucks, 5 were killed by buses… So I’m not sure why you’d feel safer if PAT went bankrupt.

http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/People/PeoplePedalcyclists.aspx


Erica
Participant
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I hope pat doesn’t go bankrupt – as annoying and inconsiderate as their employees can sometimes be, it is quite a useful service. I use it every day to get up the hills. Without it, I’d be either sleeping somewhere on e carson, or pushing my bike up the hill for an hour or two each day.


Noah Mustion
Participant
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Take the Lane. Take the Lane. Take the Lane. Take the Lane.

Can’t repeat it enough. Take the Lane.


Erica
Participant
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I should have with the bus, for sure.

when it comes to slower streets, I’ll take the lane (like on Arlington–>Josephine) and then move over and wave cars by when I feel it’s safe for them to pass. Typically, they see what I’m doing and are respectful. One guy, though, tried to pass me when I did take the lane, and we stopped at the same stop at the same time. I can’t help but wonder what is wrong with some people.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Take The Lane. Downtown especially.


bikefind
Participant
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@noah, or whoever else has thoughts:

“Take the lane” has exceptions though, right?

Like if you’re coming home from a ride that took everything out of you, and you have to get up a hill that all the effort you’ve got left puts you at something like walking speed?*

I’m willing to slow traffic, but not to that degree.

I don’t want to get off my bike and walk.

Would you just get on the sidewalk at that point?

*I’m not suggesting this actually happens to you, but putting yourself in the shoes of someone who can’t always go fast enough to take the lane.


Lyle
Participant
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Going fast isn’t the point — though that’s a common misconception. Motorists do not have a civil right to avoid the tiniest inconvevience. You do have a right to use the public way in a manner that guards your safety. You can take the lane, trudge along slowly for a few minutes, then pull over and rest. Repeat. That’s how I get up Greenfield Ave…


bikefind
Participant
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wow. I just assumed that people saying to take the lane were super-athletic and not really realizing that not everyone responds the same way to a regimen of physical demands. So now my mind is officially blown. (And it’s not even 8:30.)

It will definitely take me some time to get what you’ve said (Lyle) to sink in. Whether or not I’ll ever get the nerve up to actually do this is another matter entirely. Not that I don’t believe you.


Erica
Participant
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well, this bus was behind me from either market st or wood, but wasn’t directly behind me until past smithfield, and was only driving more slowly because of me for about a block. the driver probably thought I couldn’t see him, and if I hadn’t seen the vague figure of a bus in my water droplet-covered mirror, I’d have been completely startled and terrified, more than I was.


Lyle
Participant
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@bikefind, the difference between 7 and 15 mph up a hill is huge for a cyclist. But for the motorist who wants to go 40, it’s barely noticeable.


dwillen
Participant
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I just bike up the sidewalk on Greenfield Ave if I’m not in a mood to tackle that hill with a great amount of dedication. I do it at least once a week, usually more, and I’ve never seen another person the whole way up. Even tired, I chug along without stopping or worrying about a car running me over. Calling 311 got rid of all the cars blocking it.


caitlin
Participant
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i nearly got hit by a bus walking home last night. i crossed the intersection at the end of a green to yellow, and before his light turned green, he advanced into the intersection. i stopped mid tracks and glared but didnt do anything constructive.

this was at black st and negley.


rsprake
Participant
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I was squeezed by a bus driver this morning outside of West Penn hospital who decided to pass me rather than wait 10 seconds for me to clear the stop.


Mick
Participant
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I tend to take the lane a lot less when I’m going up hill.

The other day I was going down Fifth betwwen Robinson St and the Birmingham Bridge. I was taking the lane as I always do. A police van (#3402) slows down and tells me I should be farther right.

He moved on so I had to really YELL to say “If I did that, a door would kill me.” I thought about phoning it in, but then things were busy at work. I passed the polcie van at the Biurmingham light. I thought about explaining to them the situation.

Not to mention – I was going pretty close to the 25 mph speed limit.


Mick
Participant
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@ salty 507 cyclists were killed by passenger cars and trucks, 5 were killed by buses… So I’m not sure why you’d feel safer if PAT went bankrupt.

Because on most streets, you see a lot more than 102 cars for every bus?

I tried to find out how accurate this is, I could not find stats for the US. In Great Britain, people travel by car “as a driver” 10 times as many miles as they ride on the bus. If there werre an average of mroe than 10 passengers on teh buses, you are more than 100 times as likely to be passed by a car.

I suspect this is much more so in the US, but I’m not sure about an urban area like Pittsburgh.

I would hate to lose the PAT transit mdoe, but I’m guessing it would increase safety of bicylers.


beefgravy
Participant
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On a positive and rather astonishing note, last Friday I was attempting to cross Penn Ave at Beatty St (at the new building thing) and traffic was heavy. A PAT operator had stopped to drop off some folks at the corner, saw me waiting for traffic, opened his window and waved me across while holding up traffic a few seconds longer. Thanks, guy. You rock.


HiddenVariable
Participant
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The couple of times I’ve confronted drivers, they’ve told me they don’t belong on roads.

the moment they opened their mouths, you could just tell, yeah?

One guy, though, tried to pass me when I did take the lane, and we stopped at the same stop at the same time. I can’t help but wonder what is wrong with some people.

the other day, i had someone on negley ave pull out into the opposing lane to come up next to me, and then turn left! wtf? you couldn’t wait that extra second and a half?


ejwme
Participant
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I love when I’m on a back road in Monroeville, it’s got speed humps and stop signs galore, and SUVs try to pass me only to slam on the breaks because I’m just not going slow enough and traffic dictates they can’t do it. I totally take the lane unless I’m crawling uphill.

Once an SUV tried to pass me (I’m so in that lane, it is mine curb to center) and we get to a stop sign, and there they have to stop, completely on the wrong side of the road, because there’s an oncoming car also stopped, who inches in to the intersection because they were there first. I continue on straight as the SUV figures out how to return to his/her lane, behind me. I didn’t get passed after, either, they must have turned into a side street or driveway. None too swift, literally.


rsprake
Participant
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That’s my favorite maneuver!


Lyle
Participant
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Motorists do seem to have a hard time doing anything much more complex than reacting to what is immediately in front of them.


rsprake
Participant
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The driver behavior we see on a day to day basis is absurd at times.


steevo
Participant
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You are NOT TAKING THE LANE.

Do you take air? Do you take roads in your car?

Do you take the light from street lamps?

Do you take library use?

This might sound like crazy person talk, but I am

so far past riding far right and allowing cars to

push me over further. The law says x and I do x.

It is not taking.


ejwme
Participant
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steevo – I may take it, but I give it right back when I’m done, I swear. Though some day I may not be so magnanimous and I might just take all of rt 380 home with me one day. Commute THAT suburbanites!

(point taken… how else to better describe it? English is cantankerous)


salty
Participant
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I never ride in the door zone unless I’m absolutely crawling (<8mph, say). Otherwise, I ride a few feet into the lane and move over farther (sometimes all the way to the double yellow) when I don’t feel it’s safe for someone to pass me. Sometimes that works, I can tell people want to pass me and then realize going all the way in the other lane isn’t in their own self-interest (like at the crest of a hill, for instance).

Sometimes they do it anyways, and I marvel at the stupidity while hoping that when this one day leads to a head on collision, the driver will “take one for the team” instead of jerking their wheel to the right. Not too optimistic on that last part.


Lyle
Participant
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+1 steevo. Actually, I prefer “controlling the lane” versus “sharing the lane”, but that’s less common usage. Yeah, I’m almost on the double yellow much of the time, but that’s probably because the center of the lane is too much like surfing and the right tire track is full of craters.

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