Last Thursday Cycle Action was at the Albany Busway Station handing out flyers for our on-line survey to learn how more people can be encouraged to cycle to the Busway. It’s a real buzz watching the empty buses pull in – passengers fill them in a few minutes and buses whisk them up to the Busway, to be replaced immediately by another empty bus. Passengers say the peak hour return trip from the University precinct is hectic, as the the North Star buses can’t cope with the huge demand. I hope AT is working to fix this – but we were hugely impressed by how the slick the operation is at the start of the day.
We used any spare moments to talk to bus drivers – they were all bursting to tell us how they fear sharing bus lanes with cyclists. I told them we feel the same about sharing with buses. All of the bus drivers were well disposed towards cyclists. The simple reality is their buses are very big and drivers have limited visibility to the rear; cyclists are tiny and flighty in comparison.
All of us have stories of bus drivers who don’t treat us with respect. Here’s a rare chance to learn how bus drivers feel. It pays us to do this, as we’re often in the same road pathway – 44km of the 280km of ‘completed‘ Auckland Cycle Network are on bus lanes. We’d love to change this overnight, but our shared use is the best we can do for now. In the meantime we want your ideas on what cyclists can do to improve our safety while sharing bus lanes.
The bus drivers’ describe that they are careful to locate cyclists as they approach them, so they can pass them safely. They report that cyclists who were on their left on approach, often turn up on their right when the bus stopped at the lights. One woman bus driver reported her fright on Friday in hearing a cyclist’s helmet hit her right hand mirror as he passed the bus to reach the green stop box at the front of the lane.
This story confirms the hazards of our poor cycling infrastructure. We desperately need lead- in lanes to make stop boxes effective, as well as ensuring there are no more narrow bus lanes. We’ve got a new project underway with AT to start fixing this. In the meantime we need to share ideas on how we can respond safely to the bulk and lumbering moves of buses and our city’s cycling infrastructure. If we have enough good ideas, we’ll ask AT to help us spread the word to the cycling and bus communities.
PLEASE save your complaints for another time – give us your creative ideas NOW – this is your chance to make bus lane cycling safer for you and our cycling mates.