Thu, 16 Oct 2008

Ride to Work day + 1 — a bus, again // at 09:30

Bloody typical! Yesterday was “Ride to Work day” and I rode from home — Oakleigh — to Federation square then back to Monash and had a near perfect ride. Maybe it was all the publicity about the cyclist's death last month but everyone seemed to be pretty well behaved (which I always find a miracle on St Kilda rd, whether they're on bikes, on foot, or in cars). Had my coffee and roll and made it back for a slightly latish 9:20 start. Didn't really need a third breakfast at Wholefoods on campus!

This morning, back to the normal ride, straight along North road, carefully and legally not riding in the bus lane since its not yet 9:30am. Cars pass on the right, cars illegally pass on the left. Stopped at the lights at Clayton road with a car on my right and a turning car on my left, and a bus behind on the left. Bus driver calls out the window “Excuse me!” then proceeds to tell me over and over again that I am NOT allowed to ride on the road and MUST ride on the off-road path. “That is your path, over there, this is my lane.” I tried to point out that I was on the road, not in the bus lane and explain that bicycles are legally allowed on the road, she ain't having none of it, louder and louder she tells me I MUST get off the road.

Lights go green and off I go through the intersection, with a continuous, deafening and intimidating blast of the horn she came up behind me and unfortunately I finally got annoyed and gave her the finger, she sped past on my left and I raised my hand up and hit the mirror since it was only about 30cm from my head.

Followed her to Monash bus loop and as I walked up to the bus there were four or five passengers1 having a huge argument with her loudly complaining about her attacking cyclists and what the hell was she on about. I took her photo and she started yelling that she had video showing that I was attacking her and “road-raging her bus.” Once again she tries shouting that I must use the off road path “it is law” (crap, closest law is VicRoads rule 247 which says you must use an ON-ROAD bicycle lane where provided unless it is impracticable to do so2.)

Not Grendas, it was Eastrans this time, driver's name badge says Maryla, 8:45am or so, bus registration 5485-AO.

Happy f'kin birthday to me.

references: 1, 2, 3

1. Talking to one of the passengers later, she said the driver had been in a bad mood all morning and had shouted at her to "turn her music down" on her iPod. I hope she's in a better mood tomorrow, or Monday, or the next time she drives 10 tonne of bus past 100kg of cyclist.

2. there is no on-road bicycle lane so rule 247 does not apply, and anyway, the off-road path is unsuitable for commuting, and is downright dangerous where it crosses side roads and uses a footpath past a primary school that used to be illegal to ride on and that now crosses a McDonald's drive through! Yet another bike path built by VicRoads with the attitude of "get the cyclists off the road" that nobody ever seems to use because it is no use!

REVISITED: 2008-Nov-11: Following a written complaint to the bus company from the University transport office and the Monash University BUG we received a comprehensive apology.

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Fri, 04 Apr 2008

North road and Grenda buses… again and again // at 09:30

There must be something about their "professional training", I really can't think of anything else to explain it.

Every day I ride up North road, usually with no problems

Every day I am passed by several hundred cars, usually with no problems.

Every day I am passed by one or two buses from other bus lines, usually with no problems.

About once a month some maniac in a Grendas bus seems to want to kill me.

January, run off the road, then told to G* F*d by Grendas management when I wrote to them.

February, abuse screamed at me by a Grenda driver for being in the adjacent lane 3m from the bus wanting to do a hook turn!

Today, 6115-A0 passed at I guess 70-80km/hr with about 10cm clearance, blew my bag off my back and helmet half off my head. Any chance of pulling out a bit into the (vacant) adjacent lane next time? At the Clayton rd/north rd set of lights I pulled up alongside the bus in the middle lane, 'cos I thought he would be pulling into the bus stop after the lights, but instead WHILE CHATTING ON THE PHONE, he swerved out half a metre into my lane while pulling away from the lights then tore off up North road and through the Dandenong road lights as they went orange to red.

[2008-Apr-08] Revisited: Hmm, maybe someone at Grenda's is getting the general idea. Maybe I just met the other 29/30 day's bus drivers who don't have a problem. This morning Mr Bus driver of 6116-A0 was quite happy to go past with over a metre clearance, even though he had to almost change lanes to do so.

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Tue, 22 Jan 2008

A response, of sorts…. // at 20:00

Pah, I shouldn't have bothered to even open the envelope. After writing two weeks ago to Grenda's buses to complain about being run off the road and shouted at by one of their drivers, today I received a response.

Our office has received your correspondence dated 9th January 2008. You have raised an issue of immense interest. Our policy is very supportive of your sentiments that we must all do our best to share the roads and respect the road laws. However, it is from this point on our interpretations diverge.

Three more paragraphs stating that in their opinion the bus lane along North road is a lane for the exclusive use of buses.

No mention of me being run off the road.

No mention of what, if any, action they'll take regarding the driver of 6114-A0.

No mention of what, if any, action they'll take to stop other drivers attacking people with their buses.

Pathetic.

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Wed, 09 Jan 2008

North road, bus lanes and road-raging bus drivers // at 09:30

How odd... as I was riding along North road this morning I was thinking that I really should write back to Vic. Roads and thank them for their clarification of the use of the bus lanes. Less than a minute later I had to bite my lip to stop from laughing as a Vic. Roads maintenance vehicle drove out of a side-street, safety orange light busy spinning around on the roof, assorted warning signs all sitting in the back... and the driver chatting away on THE MOBILE PHONE. Bloody typical. Debated jotting down the details to forward them to Vic. Roads for comment, but then it all went out the window, and out of memory, in a frantic bid for self-preservation.

The driver of the 9 o'clock Grenda's route 900 bus, rego. 6114-A0 then tried to run me off the road. Blasting on the horn as he went flying past without pulling out, forced me completely out of the lane and onto the 20cm wide, debris-filled concrete kerb. When I caught him at the Dandenong road intersection he told me that it was "bus lane, you not allowed to ride in it". I informed him I had been told by Vic Roads that I could and was told "You not allowed to ride after 8:30". I informed him again that Vic Roads had told me that it was legal for cyclists to use the bus lane at all times and he changed his words to "I just letting you know I was there".I pointed out that I was fully aware of his presence and that his actions were aggressive, dangerous and unnecessary. He told me I should not ride on the road. At this point I realised it was pointless to continue attempting to discuss it with him, and as per the recommendations of the two other cyclists at the intersection, I recorded the details of his vehicle.

I've written to Grenda bus lines, with Cc to Bike Vic and Vic Roads, asking for their response to this drivers actions, and what they intend to do to prevent it recurring. I have asked that they not introduce specious arguments to the effect that I should use off-road cycle paths, as under no circumstances do their presence, however unsuitable they may be for commuter cycling, excuse road rage in other vehicle operators.

...as for the "bicycle path", well it still isn't finished, and it still has all the design problems that make it appear more of an after-thought designed from a viewpoint of getting bicycles off the road and not with any view of providing all road users, be it by car, bicycle or bus with a safe and effective route.

So far this year I've seen about twenty people cycling along North road, in all cases they've chosen to ride on the road, since it appears that the incomplete and unsuitable "bicycle path" doesn't provide any advantages — and in many ways, its presence reinforces the dangerous belief in many people's minds that cyclists have to get off the roads.

1. [2008.01.11] — Damn! Just saw on my scribble pad notes that although I'd written 6114-A0, in the letter I've written to Grenda I typed 9114-A0, probably because it was route 900 at 9 o'clock.

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Thu, 27 Mar 1997

Hit by a bus! // at 18:00

Riding home at approx 5:30pm heading west up Dandenong Rd, I had just turned onto the main road from the service lane, there were 2 cars and a bus approaching in the left most lane, but they were a fair distance back.

The two cars went past, although the second driver slowed right down and crawled past, the “Quinces” bus — Vic. DKA 119 — pulled in towards me as he went past, scraped along my pannier straps and as I through my right hand out, brushed along my knuckles. The driver was looking at me in the mirror and appeared to be either laughing or smirking.

I followed the bus to the Quinces depot in Atkinson Rd and went into the office to make a complaint — the guy (Steve) in the office seemed quite upset and promised to look into it first thing after easter.

Followups:

Wednesday 2-Apr-1997: I received a call from Steve and he said he had spoken to the driver. The driver claimed I had darted out from the side road without looking and swerved into the middle of hte lane in front of the bus. I said that this was not how the incident had appeared to me and was told that “we have spoken to all our drivers and reminded them that cyclists are legitimate road users.”

Wednesday 16-Apr-1997: I was riding back to uni at lunch time along Blackburn Road and there was a semi-trailer parked on the lawn and leaning into the left lane, as I went past, the bus that had just caught up to me pulled out completely into the next lane to overtake. I laughed when I saw the number plate — same bus, same driver.

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