Bikes and Buses, Part 1

This may come as a shock to some, but I don’t ride Muni every day. I bike to work, and I walk most other places. I claim no authority at crafting the site you’re visiting, other than being witness to its birth in idea form. I mean, I ride buses and rails just like the rest of you, just maybe not as frequently.

But, like I said, I ride my bike to work, so I deal with Muni in a way I’m pretty sure many of you do: Avoiding the bus as it’s coming to KILL ME.

What I’m speaking of, specifically, is Muni buses’ proclivity toward not seeing bicycles. The phenomenon breaks down into two main categories: Pulling in front of us, or pulling out from the curb toward us.

The first I speak of happens like this: I’m riding at a moderate clip, as aware as I can be of my surroundings. I approach a traffic-lighted intersection, and as I do, WHOOSH! a bus zooms by my left side and cuts me off as it beelines toward the stop on the other side. Thanks, I think, and continue riding at a slightly slower speed, only to then encounter scenario two:

I ride past a bus that is at a stop, angled as it were with its ass pointing out. Because I’ve almost been hit by drivers who pull away from the curb before looking to see if anything is coming, I steer way too clear, looking behind me first to see … you guessed it, if anything is coming.

Two questions:

  1. Why do the buses feel the need to gun it and drive in front of bikers, whose lane they will then have to cross to get to the bus stop? Why not go ahead and start slowing down, let the bike-riders pass, then pull over?
  2. Why do almost all drivers start driving before looking? Isn’t this Rule 1 of driving anything, including a tricycle?

One comment

  • whir

    My daily bike commute takes me down Market street from Church all the way to the Embarcadero. In that stretch Muni buses are unquestionably the most terrifying thing on the road (and this is from somebody who’s been hit by a car). There are numerous spots where buses suddenly and inexplicably veer from the left lane into the right one, and they often seem to have very little cognizance of the cyclists that swarm around them like little gnats. I’ve started to get to the point of not ever passing a stopped Muni bus because they start up again so erratically.

    This would not be nearly so much of a problem if there were decent bike lanes running down the entire length of Market – why they cut out around Civic Center is a mystery to me.

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