Bus safety

At this month’s general meeting we were fortunate to have Steve Hills (in charge of bus driver training at Brisbane Transport) and Simon Banfield (in charge of active transport at Brisbane City Council) come and talk (and listen) about how buses and bikes can share the roads harmoniously, what they’re teaching their drivers, and what they’d like cyclists to know. While some of us would never choose to ride near a bus, for others it’s a daily necessity (and the bus drivers certainly don’t get a choice). Buses and bicycles are very different vehicles and it takes some effort from both groups to make sure they mix well, and we all have a lot to lose if they don’t.

We were shown some of the current bus driver training slides and it was good to see that it already included most of what we’d like it to include, such as allowing plenty of space when overtaking, not overtaking unnecessarily (e.g. just before a bus stop), waiting patiently until it’s safe to overtake (and that safety is more important than the timetable), double checking for (and giving way to) cyclists when pulling in and out of stops, indicating early, and allowing for the great speed (and variation in speed) that cyclists can have. Members added some suggestions about what they’d like to see emphasised (and these were well received), but by and large the existing slides did an excellent job of explaining to bus drivers how best to take cyclists into consideration in their daily driving. Several members also expressed quite favourable opinions of Brisbane Transport’s drivers, and the significantly higher standard of their driving compared to other bus operators, which indicates that the training is having a noticeable positive effect (and also that it might be good to look into better training for private bus companies’ drivers).

On the flip side it was useful to hear from the bus drivers’ point of view how they considered cyclists could best co-exist with buses. The main points were summarised as:

  • Be visible: wear bright clothing, use reflectors and lights at night, and stay out of the bus’s blind spots. Remember, if you can’t see the mirrors then the driver can’t see you. You’re most visible when you’re in front of the bus.
  • Be aware: look around, including behind (when safe), and make eye contact with drivers.
  • Be predictable: travel in a straight line as much as possible, not weaving in and out or making sudden turns.

Needless to say, bus drivers are people just like us, so give them a friendly smile or wave and you’ll more than likely get one back. Of course, all of that is good advice for interacting with other road traffic too: cars, trucks, and even other bikes. The more courtesy and consideration we show for others on the roads, the more likely we are to receive it in return. And that’s got to be a good thing.

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