Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Buses and bikes

Earlier this year, SACA raised two incidents with SBS Transit concerning close shaves by cyclists in quick succession. SBS Transit responded by inviting SACA to a discussion to better understand the issues.

Before that meeting, I met up with Ling and Ai LIn from SACA at a coffee shop in Holland Village. We discussed the fact that serious encounters with bus captains will get reported and be widely discussed in cycling circles. However, positive incidents like this post, "Leeway for cyclists." are not half as exciting and ussually not written or not as well popularised. This imbalance reinforces the idea that bus captains are a threat to cyclists.

Is this actually true across the board?

I doubt that for I have often seen Bus Captains give way to me, slow down, give me wide berth when traffic is light or wave me ahead when pulling out from bus bays to indicate they've spotted me. I have observed many on these incidents through my rear-view mirror.

Admittedly there are Bus Captains, like other motorists, who are unfamiliar with cyclists, and be unable to judge a cyclists speed, or appreciate how it is relatively difficult to brake to avoid a vehicle swerving into our paths. These require education and this can be dealt with in training.

For the minority who are errant, a reporting procedure to deal with this has been established. Thankfully no incidents of this nature have arisen since.

Another issue we discussed was the fact that cyclists are often are a threat to themselves, and thus to other road users. I, for one, feel that a cyclist who intends to ride on our roads amongst traffic should be armed with a rear-view mirror and be familiar with the highway code. Many cyclists are not as well prepared for our traffic-laden roads as they should be.

So SACA put up this SACA-SBS Transit Programme page for starters. By briefing their drivers after receiving this feedback, SBS Transit is improving the situation from their end. And feedback can be incorporated into Bus Captain training in future. And serious incidents will be given their due attention.

Educating cyclists, on the other hand, will be more of a challenge - we lack any organisational structure. While there are ideas about how to improve that, for now, this SACA webpage is a start.

If you have points for the feedback to Bus Captains/motorists or to cyclists, you can leave your comments here to be forwarded to SBS Transit, or email SACA.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with what you're saying! I can only remember a handful of incidents where a bus moved suddenly into my path, and many where bus drivers have gone out of the way to make sure I'm safe, including staying behind my bike on single-lane roads for ridiculous distances, waiting until the right lane cleared before overtaking me, and generally being very nice and polite on the road (as long as I was being nice and polite in return).

All in all, I love buses when cycling. It's the larger trucks which make me shiver, and taxis which I keep extra-vigilent about.