Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Incident with "First Student" bus 12/1/2010

Update sent to my supervisor and Avalos (D11 Supe), and School Board.

From Dufty

I'm sorry for this and am asking Chris Armentrout to make sure the right people see it ASAP


On Alemany around Mt Vernon, Jason, Signe and I were cruising along in the bike lane. There were three contractor trucks double parked in the bike lane, maybe there is a day laborer pickup spot there? Anyway, as we are merging out of the Bike Lane into the rightmost traffic lane I hear a honk from 30 or so yards behind us, close enough to hear but not close enough to startle. But what did startle me was a "First Student" bus that buzzed within a foot or so of us, fortunately before we made it to the double parked cars so we had a little room to veer away (I think, it happened pretty fast). We were going 16 MPH or so, the bus was almost certainly exceeding what I am pretty sure is a posted 35 MPH speed limit. There was zero additional traffic - the left lane was clear.

Of course, as is always the case, this allowed the bus driver to make it to the red light 50 yards in front of us much faster. As we pulled alongside I started scanning for the bus number and found it on the front of the bus - 215866. As I have learned - instead of looking first at the driver, I pointed at the number - indicating to the driver I didn't want a fight, I wanted to report him. He opened the bus door and started screaming at us.

Among his points - "YOU CAN'T LEAVE THE BIKE LANE" (not true - you are allowed to leave the bike lane to avoid obstacles, 3 pickup trucks generally count as obstacles). "I SHOULD CALL THE CHP ON YOU" (Alemany isn't in the CHP jurisdiction, SFPD could not ticket us but probably not ticket him, to me it was an unsafe pass but that's hard to quantify - nonetheless he was the one operating unsafely). Beyond that there was a bunch of rambling.

Mid 50's grayish hair, blue baseball cap with a logo of interlocked letters of some sort. Small sized bus.

He had decision points where he could have avoided incident. Seeing us signal and merge out he could have slowed until we passed the double parked cars (it really annoys me - the root cause of his "delay" is three double parked cars, not three bikes). He could have switched lanes. If he's lazy he could just move over 3-4 feet and given us plenty of room. Any argument that this was impossible is thwarted by the fact he had the wherewithall to take a hand off the wheel and honk his horn. And certainly that verifies - along with his statement "YOU CAN'T LEAVE THE BIKE LANE" that he had seen us, and he made a conscious decision to not accommodate us and thus endanger our lives for no reason.

He saw us, and drove right at us. Period.

Note that the "First Student" website pretty much starts with

First Student, Inc. is North America’s leading school bus transportation services company and responsible for safely transporting 6 million students to and from school every day.

Technically, I'm not a student.

Sad. This guy is a professional driver for an organization that 6 million parents (give or take) trust with their children, and he made a measured decision that he didn't care if he ended someone's life.

Just to add insult to injury, in Woodside we made a foot down stop at 84/Canada, watched a car cross from our left, then from our right, then we proceeded into the intersection and had to slam the brakes when another car proceeded from the left. Apparently our friends from the Woodside PD were in the bakery for that one.

1 comment:

Mark said...

In general, I find professional drivers to be much better than other motorists with the courtesy that they extend to me as a cyclist. The one exception is definitely school buses. My assumption is that whereas a UPS driver or other is driving all day long, the fewer hours on the road for school bus drivers means that they are less experienced. This should be compensated for by additional hours of training for them - what do they do during school hours?