Comment of the week: A TriMet bus driver on letting bikes pass first

Comment of the week: A TriMet bus driver on letting bikes pass first

What’s it like to drive a bus in a city full of bikes?

The first commenter we’re highlighting in our new weekly feature, TriMet bus operator Dan Christensen, explained a little bit of the experience beneath our post this week about an alleged bike-bus collision at a Milwaukie bus stop.

Dan Christensen

Dan Christensen in 2012.
(Photo by M.Andersen)

As a bus driver I can tell you that way too few of the busses have cameras that would have showed this incident. I won’t bore you with model numbers and cameras I will just generalize and say outside backward facing cameras are only on the news busses in the fleet.

As a driver I have given up on the pass and pull over maneuver if it’s under a block. First I don’t think it’s safe, tracking my own observations I realized that it’s fraught with a high frequency of Bus V Bike encounter. I also don’t believe it saves much time. Sure it may seem faster but then you have to wait for cyclist to pass your bus and clear a safe distance.

So if it’s under a block I just bang back and go slow until I can make my stop.

There is no policy at trimet regarding the proper way to do this but I use the one block rule and it keeps me safely away from B V. C encounters.

Some cyclist think I’m trying to shame them. hanging way back and going slow. Most understand and many speed up when they hear me back there waiting. You cannot make everyone happy as a bus driver but you can strive to make everyone safe… Keep doing a good job Portland Cyclist.

Longtime readers will remember that Christensen (like many bus operators, probably) has sometimes had a complicated relationship with bikes but works hard to call these things as he sees them while being conscientious about different perspectives. That’s why we were so glad to see him sharing his perspective on this incident.

Thanks to everyone for another week of excellent comments and productive conversations.

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