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last Sunday's (mis)adventure

On Sunday 2/24 at 0930 I was riding on Main Street in Sharpsburg. I was bumped from behind by a PAT bus. No injury, no damage to the bike. If you're interested, there's an initial brief here: And there's meatier details here:
2013-02-28 00:28:31
Glad you are ok! Both of your links seem to be the same to me. Is that photo from the inside of the bus actual surveillance of the incident?
2013-02-28 01:19:40
I think you meant this for the second link: Crazy to see those images. I agree there's not conclusive proof of a collision contained in the images, but there is no doubt that the 4-foot law was violated. Was this the PAT police? What exactly did they say about the 4 foot law? Maybe it's worth pursuing it with local or even state police (is that a state road?).
2013-02-28 01:22:44
Glad you are OK. I think bus hit your panier and it's the reason why there are no sccratches or other damages. Bus driver would not hear a thing.
2013-02-28 07:39:33
@salty - I think Main Street in Sharpsburg is a state road (it is called Freeport Road through Aspinwall, and is a state road there.). (However, when these types of things have happened in the past, don't all other law enforcement agencies tend to refer the matter to the PAT Police?)
2013-02-28 09:11:33
For those that doubt there was a collision faced with inconclusive pictorial evidence, I have to wonder, what could they possibly imagine as a motive for a false report? It may well be that the driver couldn't feel the collision. Relative weight and pannier theory, so I don't think the punishment needs to be in the "leaving the scene of an accident" territory. But it really, REALLY, sucks that there's no apparent interest in requiring bus drivers clearly in violation of the 4ft rule (or 2 ft. rule for that matter), to take some time off the road (and off the payroll, I dare say) for some driver re-training.
2013-02-28 09:25:30
This is exactly why we have a 4 foot law and why this driver should be suspended without pay and given a warning that if something like this happens again they will be fired but that will never happen. Glad you're ok.
2013-02-28 09:27:43
I will join with the others in a collective sigh of relief. Thank you for the blog posts, and the pictures PAT provided. If nothing else, they show the info that PAT can provide, should the need arise.
2013-02-28 09:34:49
I think the is the obvious problem with internal policing. Perhaps try reaching out to Steven Patchen?
2013-02-28 10:16:27
WTAE, KDKA, WPXI? So so so glad you're ok.
2013-02-28 10:52:42
I had no idea those cameras had that high resolution--especially the internal one. If I'm not mistaken, Sharpsburg Main Street is old Route 28, and thus is probably still a state road. Would take more time than I have to check, though--can someone else confirm/refute?
2013-02-28 11:27:13
Thanks to all. I definitely wanted to share the quality of the PAT bus recordings, although I'm told that different bus models have systems of varying qualities. "My" bus shoots 4 fps inside and 10 fps outside. I think it speaks well of PAT's forensic response that they gave me copies of the videos from each camera. Cool playback stuff. Yes, PAT police are supposed to handle all PAT bus issues. In my event, the 911 dispatcher didn't notify PAT, and then PAT declined to pick up the ball since they weren't there at TimeZero. I have very mixed feelings about PAT policing themselves. For instance, in a time of PAT budgetary crisis, doesn't the PAT PD have a disincentive to be transparent in issues of litigation and settlements? OTOH, you could argue all the various hamlets that the PAT busses run through are ill equipped to deal with them. For me, at the end of the day, UPS doesn't get its own police, and Fedex doesn't get their own police, and USAirways doesn't get its own police. I think there's an obvious and inherent conflict of interest in the present arrangement, and it tends to diminish the public confidence in the justice system. But I must say that I'm VERY IMPRESSED with the PAT Police people I met, they left me absolutely convinced, beyond any doubt, that if there was any evidence of a collision they'd be charging the driver. OTOH, nobody at PAT believes in the four-foot rule. My takeaways include these lessons, I thought I'd mention them FWIW. 1. Nobody at PAT or a local PD would interrupt a driver on his route because somebody accused them of a hit-and-run. nobody. 2. There is no way you're ever going to get a PAT driver drug-tested, even though they're subject to federal transport testing standards. C. Local police do no want to even think about grappling with PAT. IV. The most help I got was because I texted Scott @ BikePgh who suggested helpful paths. five. Marc Reisman was willing to talk with me and was direct and effective. I would call him again. EdgarSnyder's firm is a personal injury practice, and if you're not hurt there's no big money and they won't talk with you. 6. The four-foot rule is a flaccid impotent charade. Nobody enforces it. It's useful for public awareness campaigns but The Man has zero desire to enforce it. 7. It's crazy that PAT is self-policing. And I was very impressed at the PAT police forensic team and I think they're good people with integrity. (even if they're not into the four-foot rule) ate. Tapes don't lie. But if they're looking at the wrong camera, the results are misleading. Let teh viewer beware. nein. If nothing else, a bicyclist should be a BikePgh member because nobody else gives a shit and/or gets it. X. Written reports and statements will always be misinterpreted leading to an ineffective process and thwarting an appropriate conclusion. You have to meet them face to face. 11 The only thing that's going to keep me alive out there is myself. Nobody else is looking out for a bicyclist. I've written about this and disclosed the details just to contribute to the common knowledge. I think a lot of these things happen and it's never reported or discussed. I want to close specifically by praising and thanking Scott Bricker, Marc Reisman, and Jon Schultz of the Post-Gazette. They were my only allies and they know what they're doing.
2013-03-01 09:52:13
Nick D wrote:... Perhaps try reaching out to Steven Patchen?
Nick, in my own experience I have not found that he's particularly effective. Nice guy, no results.
2013-03-01 10:02:43
@Vannevar: Please don't stop until the bus driver is charged. Regardless of the evidence of collision, there is clear evidence that the driver broke the law by passing within 4 feet of you. That law will continue to be a flaccid, impotent measure unless it is enforced. You have undisputable proof that the law was broken, please don't give up the fight. Surely BikePGH and the local media can support your campaign for justice, too.
2013-03-01 10:08:27
Hello Jay (and Happy Friday!) - you know, I started off with the same thoughts as you've described. It's a perfect case for enforcing the four-foot rule because there's video (from the offending vehicle, no less!) Let me say something about myself. I am an angry ball-busting Hedgehog with a tendency to get (and remain) aroused about threats and injustice. There's a reason my family left the Old Country. The spirit of Don Quixote is in me and I can nurture an ugly anger. I am not proud of it and I am struggling and working on becoming smarter than my base ugliness. I can not get anybody to do anything about this. They are just not interesting in a four-foot rule violation. They don't take it seriously and they don't believe in it. I do not have a lever big enough to change their understanding of what their duties are. They are not bad people, in fact I think they are good honest earnest public servants who just don't believe in this thing. I have pushed and cajoled and spent days on it. I've pushed real hard. I've gotten frustrated and I'm sure I've given several people a difficult time. In my own mind, if nowhere else, I think I'm usually pretty effective but I've had no progress on this. I can not get them to do anything about this. I realize I have about as perfect a situation as could be obtained. It's not happening. That's part of the story I want yinz to know about. The four foot rule - strike that, the four foot LAW - will not have any effect. It's somewhat analogous to this: We have a law saying that 1% of major construction projects must go to public art. (A lot of cities have such rules, and it leads to wonderful urban artwork) Pittsburgh does not enforce it, does not believe in it, and it's not happening. It gets a yinzer-shoulder-shrug.
2013-03-01 11:03:37
OK, snarky comment: The four-foot law is about as worthwhile as a Ravenstahl 2013 bumper sticker. And don't call me Surely. (sorry; all the best to you.)
2013-03-01 11:12:56
Wow V, I can certainly appreciate the effort and the passion having tilted at a few windmills myself. At a certain point you have to ask yourself if all of the effort is going to be worth it. In this case, at the personal level, I’m guessing the answer is going to be “no”. That’s very unfortunate, but probably realistic. Even if the driver would be charged with violating the four foot rule, he would then have an opportunity to fight his ticket at the magistrate level where I’m sure they have no knowledge of the new law. Even if the ticket is confirmed, the driver would then have the opportunity to appeal - which I assume he would since this ticket would impact his commercial driving record. It’s a very big windmill indeed. The important thing is that neither you nor srpit was injured, and we are truly thankful for that. I’m also sure that that bus driver will think twice before making an unsafe pass since I’m sure he now knows how the cameras work, and he knows he got away with one this time. It would be nice to tackle this as a larger group and as a larger issue, and I guess that’s what BikePgh is all about. “For neither good nor evil can last for ever; and so it follows that as evil has lasted a long time, good must now be close at hand.” ? Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
2013-03-01 11:34:53
I'd recommend that you get a mirror and then you can use stuff like that unoccupied parking just ahead of you in the first bus picture when possible. I would have seen the bus in my mirror and slipped over into the parking area and let the bus pass. i've even had busses give little honks of appreciation when I do stuff like this. It makes riding much more pleasant. As far as lanes go (and most other things) - its better to give than take. Not to say that the bus driver isn't at fault at all, but thats just the way I've found to get along. fwiw -My commute is really long, I ride more than 2 hours every day and basically never have any problem.
2013-03-01 11:37:24
" I can not get them to do anything about this. I realize I have about as perfect a situation as could be obtained. It’s not happening. That’s part of the story I want yinz to know about. The four foot rule – strike that, the four foot LAW – will not have any effect. " Paging Scott Bricker, Steve Patchan, I don't want to know about this, I want this fixed. When a lone cyclist fights the system (hit by PAT and alarmingly close pass by Police vehicle have both been over the boards late), he looses, we know this. At a certain point, as an individual, you run out of steam for talking to people who aren't listening and legal action isn't a cheap hobby. You two are the ones, outside and inside the system respectively, who should make SURE he is not alone. And most of your work is necessarily in conversation form and invisible to us, especially Steve. I know you care about this. And maybe you are at work on this. But we have incontrovertible evidence here of the law being broken. This one CAN'T end in shrugs. As an aside, it would be rather nice to hear something along the way about this, too. The severity of punishment for the driver doesn't matter much. But that there is a punishment, retraining, and first inroads into a culture change about this within PAT (close passes by buses aren't infrequent) is absolutely essential. Public transit and biking are complementary as long as the road is shared safely. This is an essential part of our city's future. Get to it, and good luck!
2013-03-01 11:47:31
I'd donate a little cash for a civil suit over this.
2013-03-01 11:49:24
@Boazo: blame the victim much, Captain Hindsight? @byogman: +infinity @Mick: I got five on it
2013-03-01 12:30:18
Not mentioned yet except in passing is that there was a second bus going in the opposite direction. That would have made it impossible for this driver to give V the required four feet. What the bus driver was then expected to do -- what EVERY driver is expected to do -- is slow down, stop if necessary. THAT is what the four-foot law is supposed to be about. If you cannot safely get by, then stop. That is the critical difference that, AFAICT, nobody is talking about. Not at PAT, not in police departments, not in the media, not even in the bike community, much.
2013-03-01 12:32:38
byogman wrote:” .... Paging Scott Bricker, Steve Patchan,
I must say that Scott is excellent, he was the only person that offered help on DayOne, and he's been following up about PAT in the moving forward vector. It takes a policeman and a prosecutor and those aren't Scott's jobs. As a BikePgh member I was (and am) extremely grateful to Scott. There's no deficiency there. Scott did everything possible. Also, Jon Schmitz of the P-G was extremely helpful in the back channel. I've already commented on the Bike Coordinator's effectiveness. That's a liaison position, an advocacy position, a political appointment with no authority. It's okay.
2013-03-01 12:32:57
Boazo wrote: I’d recommend that you ___________. I would have _________________. ..... Not to say that the bus driver isn’t at fault at all, BUT _________ I ride more than 2 hours every day and basically never have any problem.
2013-03-01 12:40:08
Captain Hindsight +++ My comments are just meant to show how I have such a wonderfull time riding , you can ride however you want.
2013-03-01 12:42:31
StuInMcCandless wrote:Not mentioned yet except in passing is that there was a second bus going in the opposite direction. That would have made it impossible for this driver to give V the required four feet.
Stu, the opposite direction bus had moved well beyond us when "my" driver passed-and-bumped me. There was nothing in the other lane. That doesn't come across in my screenshots, I'm sorry. But your point is quite right (as always). Four feet is not optional. If they can't pass, they should slow the f*ck down.
2013-03-01 12:49:57
Boaza, I think the problem isn't the suggestion, pulling over when you have something in the rear view and can do it easily is a nice thing. I do it too. Vannevar may too for all you know, it's not an uncommon thing. What you don't see is how many vehicles might be behind the bus. I don't pull over when I can't pull back and I suspect you don't either. Or whether there's a red light ahead, or whether the overall speed on the road is just low. I also don't pull over when it doesn't really buy the cars anything and suspect you don't either. So there's a lot you don't know, and I don't either. Vannevar is about as conscientious and thoughtful in his own posts about this as I could possibly imagine anyone being. More than I would be. Why would you assume he's not a conscientious rider? And... this is even all assuming someone doesn't have more responsibility to react to what's ahead of them than adapt to what's behind, which of course is pure nonsense. So I guess you could say, this is me strongly second guessing your second guessing. I'm glad your experience has been so positive so far, but sample size of one != evidence.
2013-03-01 15:37:55
Yeah, this one sat REALLY poorly with me. I don't really know whether this Talent-City forum is looked at with any seriousness but I figured it couldn't hurt to vent about this again. Things that are stupid, dangerous, and frankly, easily fixed.
2014-01-17 09:54:09
I added my 2¢ on the talent-city forum, along with some more stories
2014-01-17 09:58:49
fyi/ot My wife informed me about a bus-bike incident on Bellefield yesterday. She was on the bus and actually was not aware of anything happening (must be that relative mass thing again). Anyway the bus stopped, the driver jumped out, was with the rider (at the back of the bus), etc. Rider was upright and apparently ok. It would be nice if more information (say incident reports) were available someplace. As a community (riders, drivers) we still can lean a lot from what goes wrong, and develop practical knowledge on how to do things right.
2014-01-17 11:15:19
Bellefield is seriously overdue for a redesign, as are all the roads around Pitt's campus. They repaved it last year, and now all the drivers who were slowed by the potholes treat it like a speedway, desperate to get from Forbes to Fifth as quickly as possible--the speed limit is 25, but most of the busses seem to do 35 (no stops, you see...), a number of smaller cars go even faster, and almost nobody stops for the crosswalk at Fillmore---and even if one does, the other lane frequently continues to pass. Frankly, I'm surprised it took this long for someone to get hit. As an aside, I put in a 311 a couple years ago, asking for a pedestrian-activated stop signal like Liberty & 17th (another T where the side street is one-way away from the intersection), or at least a pedestrian crossing light like Braddock @ the tennis courts, but it was rejected. Might try again once the new administration gets some new managers into DPW. Hopefully it doesn't have to wait until someone gets killed.
2014-01-17 11:32:38
^I thing a raised crosswalk (speed table) would be a perfect solution to both problems.
2014-01-17 12:37:49
Or just a crosswalk sting. Which could be implemented tomorrow, would pay for itself, and would teach drivers to stop at other crosswalks, too.
2014-01-17 12:44:15
Speed Table. City already put them in on Gold Way so the concept and an administrative precedent are already in place. Enforcement is satisfying but the speed table sticks around 24/7.
2014-01-17 14:59:49
When Bellefield was torn up and in terrible shape, most bus drivers went through at full speed anyway. They have seats with springs and padding, and most of them don't seem to be bothered if their passengers happen to get emulsified. I suspect a speed table on Bellefield wouldn't slow them down either. They do slow down for stop signs though. A stop sign before the crosswalk could help.
2014-01-17 15:33:57
Speed table plus stop sign. I'd be Ok with that.
2014-01-17 19:22:09
Ok, speed table plus stop sign plus police enforcement. That should do it.
2014-01-17 20:38:25
Marko82 wrote:Ok, speed table plus stop sign plus police enforcement. That should do it.
Police enforcement? Lets see, we are talking about the police that make bars hire off duty officers to protect? You know, when that last shooting outside the Original when the "O" wasn't hiring off duty police and now they started having to pay for it again after that young guy died. Now you want them to set up at a stop sign? Who is going to pay for it? Maybe we can start a fund going to pay them on the side to enforce laws for cyclists? That may work. It works for bars and nightclubs. Just hire off duty officers to do the work for us.
2014-01-17 21:32:45
@gg, you might be on to something there. Sincerely. I wonder if a kickstarter campaign to fund some Pittsburgh Police enforcement would generate enough media attention and/or civic embarassment to drive action. We could seek to fund enforcement of the speed limit on any one street that's an issue for cyclists, and/or stop sign behaviors at any one intersection that's an issue for cyclists, Interview: "Sally Wiggin: Explain this to me, you're trying to raise money to pay the police to enforce the speed limit?" "Yinzer Cyclist: Well, yeah, seems like the city won't do it, n'at, so we're like hella-yeah we'll contribute, it's frikkin' dangerous out here Sally!" Let me ask this two-part question: if (IF) we were going to run a KickStarter for police enforcement, (1) what one spot would you pick for speed limit enforcement? Any particular time of day, days of week? (2) what one stop-sign would you pick for enforcement? Any particular time of day, day(s) of week? Having said that, we're also in week3 of the Nu-Mayor, and maybe it's smart to save public challenges/ stunts until week 10 or so. It's a really interesting concept.
2014-01-18 07:03:18
@gg and V, isnt that what MAD did/does albeit with grant money raised from foundations/government/other? Whenever I read news stories about upcoming DUI checkpoints it usually states that the local police are receiving funds from somewhere else in order to do it. So while I contemplate your "where" question might I suggest also the "what" question and say where would we want an undercover cop on a bike to enforce the 4 foot rule too.
2014-01-18 09:23:32
HAWK beacon at Bellefield and Filmore? If we can first get HAWK lights in PA at all. And another one at South Braddock at Biddle. But I fear that's off-topic to the thread. Bus cameras: They're mainly there to cover Port Authority's ass, particularly as concerns assaults on drivers, but in a larger sense, they protect PAT as an organization against wrongdoing by others. Whether they can be used to prosecute PAT against wrongdoing by itself, I would not bet high. BYOC (bring your own camera)
2014-01-19 09:45:14
For now, yes the cameras are by PAT, for PAT. They can be put in service for a higher calling, however. If an organization with some leverage over PAT demands it. Whether 1: Postings to talent-city are taken at all seriously 2: By someone in an organization with leverage over PAT... I don't know and don't make the optimistic assumption. However, for #1, for sure is more plausible if more people come in and concur that it sure would nice.
2014-01-19 15:30:30
Stu and Ben, re PAT cameras: I'm left with zero doubt that if you have a specific complaint about a specific bus, skip the service complaint webform and go to the PAT police department, they will definitely review the camera tapes. I was very impressed at that. Having said that, I also found that going and meeting them was essential to effectively communicating the geometry of the event, and getting them to look at the correct camera's video feed. I really do want to say, after having worked with PAT police and their bureaucracy: I can't demonize them, and I got zero results. They even gave me copies of all five camera's video feeds, I've got them in my laptop. Marko, re 4-foot rule enforcement: my pursuit of the Four-Foot rule and consultation with a bike attorney (trying to enforce it) taught me that it's not enforceable, unless it's in conjunction with another violation - and in that case, it's not significant. So enforcing the 4-foot law isn't (imo) strategic or cost-benefit justified. The attorney told me, it wouldn't be fair to take my money trying to enforce it, we wouldn't get any results - and I've got video. Stu, regarding the HAWK lights - I guess when I said, what enforcement action would we CrowdSource, I didn't mean what equipment would we buy and install. So here's what I do mean. I think there's a benefit in getting Pgh city drivers to pay more attention to stop signs and speed limits. I think there's a benefit to a publicized campaign of unmarked police cars doing stop-sign and speed limit enforcement in established conditions; bike commuter routes between 0700 and 0830 and 1600 to 1800, let's say. (We should validate those times) So we identify some undisclosed locations and times, then we communicate via BikePgh and the Peduto Admin about the budget. Then we establish the Kickstarter and light up public media. So before it ever happens, we'll have media attention and buzz about speeding and stop signs. All to the good. And my question is: What locations would you choose for stop-sign and speed limit enforcement? What are the egregious places most dangerous to bicyclists? Because I think there's some money to be raised for this, but I don't know which locations to emphasize.
2014-01-19 16:08:20
I added this at --- I strongly agree. PAT bus drivers need to be held accountable. Here are the infractions that I've witnessed. I reported all of them (at customer service web page) but I never heard that anything came of it, so I conclude that such complaints have been ignored, in the past. This is not acceptable. Buses passing dangerously close to cyclist: buzzed by a 61D bus on 2012/11/5 on Forbes near Beeler (within 2 or 3 feet of me, on my bicycle, as I biked along the right side of the road; bus driver violated the 4 foot law). buzzed by a 61A bus on 2013/7/18 on Forbes near Dallas (within 2 feet of me, as I biked in the bike lane; bus driver violated the 4 foot law). Buses running red lights: route 61C, 2010/4/14, ran red light at Forbes & Wightman. route 67A, 2010/5/20, ran 3 red lights in a row(!) on Wilkins and Dallas. route 71B, 2012/1/3, ran red light at 5th & Aiken. route 61A, 2013/2/4, ran red light at Forbes & Braddock. route 61D, 2013/12/26, ran red light at Murray & Hobart. route 71A, 2014/1/14, ran red light at 5th & Craig.
2014-01-19 17:37:26
A Kickstarter we should all get behind. I don't think that there's any one place or time for these traffic violations. At least not in my own bicycling experience. They happen all the time, everywhere. All the police need to do is park on a well-traveled street, near an intersection. And simply start enforcing traffic law. I thought I was paying for that already.
2014-01-19 17:39:03
I disagree with the premise that PAT drivers are "among the worst offenders", and I don't agree with singling them out for enforcement just because they happen to have cameras on their vehicles. Today I watched 4 cars run the same light at Murray and Forbes (2 were questionably "orange" but the last 2 were blatently red) as the "all walk" was coming on - so 6 buses in 4 years sounds pretty good. I've been buzzed by one PAT bus ever; I couldn't even estimate the number of non-PAT vehicles that have done the same.
2014-01-19 22:25:55
In a sense, yes, I'm singling them out. Professional drivers serving the public good should be held to a high standard. But in another sense I'm not. Any time footage is available and tells the tale, that should be that, and the driver, if clearly culpable should be punished. Basically, if you agree with that and think it's an important principle, at least if you got a talent-city account, it's worth logging in to voice it. Look, personal experiences will always vary. But while reports of close passes by buses occur at a fraction of the frequency of reports of close passes by cars/trucks/suvs, buses make up a much smaller fraction of the total number of vehicles in motion at any given point. It's disproportionately bad. Individual drivers of cars/trucks/suvs are doubtless more hot-headed and stupid, but easy to see that some drivers are hostile toward cyclists when you try and rack a bike. That plus the disproportionality definitely makes me think there's hostility or at least a whole lot of "I don't give a damn" coming out on roads. That scares me. V's misadventure scares me. Lack of accountability in the face of incontrovertible evidence makes me madder than hell, makes me think no way is this going to get better with status quo, probably worse, and that scares me. I don't want to be run off the road and I do want people in positions of power to take easy steps to improve my safety. And I don't mind being a bit noisy about that!
2014-01-20 08:59:02
@V's question, how about concentrating enforcement on most heavily traveled bike routes - so Ellsworth, Penn through the strip, Butler in L'ville, Carson in SS? And I wouldnt be against the police handing out warnings to cyclists for not stopping for stop signs either, although their focus should be on the big two ton metal thingies.
2014-01-20 09:00:26
You can't assert it's "disproportionately bad" without data. I don't have the data either, but my gut feeling is the opposite of yours. I have never had an issue putting my bike on the rack nor sensed any hostility about it from the driver. One of my coworkers had a recurring problem with a T driver, but was able to get that remedied (albeit more slowly than it should have been) by reporting it to PAT. I do agree that professional drivers should be held to a higher standard, especially considering the size of their vehicles. I just don't agree with effectively singling them out for enforcement. Give me a solution that works for all drivers and I am happy to apply it to buses as well.
2014-01-20 10:43:44
salty wrote:You can’t assert it’s “disproportionately bad” without data.
I'd say somewhat 1/20 of reports of close passes involve buses. The latter at least could be validated easily here. The latter perhaps by bus schedules (ignoring out of service) and Penndot traffic counts on corridors. Will I do this right now? No, I owe some work to my employer. Maybe if I'm feeling really ornery I'll do the former at some point. However, I kind of think a regular reader of that thread would already have the strong impression that much more than 1/20 reports involves a bus. Anyways, the characterization was an impetus to action, but not the reasoning why doing something with what we have is better than doing nothing. The reasoning is... wait, isn't doing something with what we have ALWAYS better than doing nothing?
I just don’t agree with effectively singling them out for enforcement. Give me a solution that works for all drivers and I am happy to apply it to buses as well.
I don't think a proposal has to meet such a high threshhold in order to be a useful and important step in the right direction.
2014-01-20 11:10:34
angle bracket messed up post, replacing w percentages. I assert somewhat less than 1/20 vehicles on cyclist heavy routes are buses and significantly more than 1/20 dangerous driver posts are about buses. The latter could be validated fairly easily here. But again, beside the point. Let's just use what we already have already!
2014-01-20 11:16:37
I have almost always found PAT drivers to be supportive and helpful to me when I'm riding the bus with my bike. BUT I've also experienced some close passes -- usually in situations where private motorists would do the same. Fortunately, it is easy to identify the driver of the PAT bus and report them to PAT; unfortunately, there's no way to be sure that any action at all was taken. So that needs to be fixed. I would think that pressure at the county level would be the way to do it.
2014-01-20 11:26:47
I dont have the same impression as you at all, and this feels way too much like you're picking data sources to confirm your bias instead of drawing a conclusion after analyzing the data. I would not expect reports on this board to be a statistically valid source of data. I don't trust anecdotal data at all - for instance, isn't it possible a pass by a bus or other large vehicle "feels" closer than a car passing at the same distance? Certainly I have my own biases, but I'm more than willing to listen to arguments based on real data, assuming you can find any. Let's build some detectors and put them on bikes if we really want to prove something. Another option is looking at crash reports - are bus drivers at fault in a larger relative percentage of crashes?
2014-01-20 12:37:09
@salty, I never thought about a detector before but that would be a great device if they could make it accurate. I'd be interested in what the data looked like versus what the rider and driver implied it to be. I'd bet that most cyclists would think that the car was closer than actual and that most drivers would think they were further than actual - but it would be interesting to know by how much. In addition it would be nice to be able to experiment to determine what the safe distance should be. PA uses 4 feet, other places use 3 feet, both of which have been pulled out of thin air as far as I can tell. But shouldnt the distance be different for different speeds? types of vehicles? weather conditions?
2014-01-20 13:04:26
Sidebar on data quality and measuring what matters: Close pass reports have their flaws, and vehicle size creating a perception of a closer pass certainly might be one of them. But to judge the frequency of close passes by close pass reports doesn't seem arbitrary. It seems like the best available data source. We're not going to get data from a real swath of the cycling public from these detectors for the same reason that we don't from helmet cameras. Your point with accident reports is interesting, but except in the case of major accidents it's not a particularly high quality data source. Also, the causes for accidents in the reporting could be totally wrong or missing. Finally, stepping back just a touch, ideally you want to address causes and not just effects so there's at least a chance not to get to those effects. Main point: The 4 foot law is there for a reason, cyclists need room to maneuver, to deal with balance, to deal with things in front of them drivers might not see, or even just to be able to stick a hand out and indicate where they're going. The cameras are already there, I'm just saying let's use them. If that's unfair to bus drivers inasmuch as car drivers almost always get away with close passes whereas bus drivers can't anymore, friggin cry me a river. And if they prove that close pass perception on the part of the cyclist is largely skewed by vehicle size, what has really been lost here? You want data? This will give you data.
2014-01-20 13:30:40
Detectors: The technology exists and has been tested on Pittsburgh buses. It was long enough ago that the last of the buses that had them were retired six years ago. CMU experiment, IIRC. In essence, sensors were added to the sides and corners of buses, tiny cameras &/or motion detectors. I forget how the system was supposed to work.
2014-01-20 14:16:20
StuInMcCandless wrote:Detectors: The technology exists and has been tested on Pittsburgh buses. It was long enough ago that the last of the buses that had them were retired six years ago. CMU experiment, IIRC. In essence, sensors were added to the sides and corners of buses, tiny cameras &/or motion detectors. I forget how the system was supposed to work.
Not familiar with the specific system referenced, but probably similar to the electric-eye systems used to control automatic doors, bathroom faucets, etc... Trick would be figuring out difference in return signal from cyclists, pedestrians, and cars ---at which point, could be possible to set a threshold for appropriate passing distance for each class, and sound an alarm for the driver and/or record for supervisor review.
2014-01-20 14:22:55
byogman wrote:I’d say somewhat 1/20 of reports of close passes involve buses.
You have take into account that the same bus goes in loops while car usually goes 2 times (sometimes 4 times if someone rides to lunch) a day. So one bad driver will expose buses more often then a bad car driver. During rush hours bus would go both direction of traffic 2 or more times.
2014-01-20 15:14:10
Total vehicles or even total vehicles commuting is not a useful number for comparison, correct. But was referring to fraction vehicles in motion, at roughly the same place and time as cyclists. Even then buses are a very small fraction. You wouldn't necessarily think that by close pass reports alone.
2014-01-20 22:47:52
I scanned the first two pages of the "dangerous drivers" thread and so far my highly scientific score is 1 bus vs 18 non-buses. Why does your proposal need to cast aspersions on PAT drivers in the first place? There are a lot of good ideas in there and I'd like to support it, but it's far too antagonistic. PAT definitely should not have final authority to police itself - that is the crux of the issue, and what happened to V is proof of that. There is no proof that PAT drivers are bad drivers in general.
2014-01-20 23:47:24
I think the main problem with this plan is the idea that we can somehow get leverage over the police around here They just had a big blowup where the chief was forced to resign over moving money around, and I think he was the only person forced to go right? Maybe one other person? Even though other people saw what was going on? We also have cops shooting into a blocked in car around pedestrians, hitting (presumably innocent) passengers, beating a kid to a pulp with 0 evidence and one the key piece of evidence they threw away according to them (Jordan Miles), we also have the Port Authority cops (I think maybe somebody else, I forgot) saying a guy made a u-turn in the Armstrong tunnel so they had to gun him down, and when the video came out that showed they were lying and the Pittsburgh Police didn't counter their claim even though they were there, nobody got in trouble for it, etc, etc, etc So really, unless the new mayor drastically changes things, I don't see the Police Department being responsive to our concerns
2014-01-21 00:12:07
Bus DRivers. My commute has the stretch of 5th Ave between Craft Avenue and Gist. I do that stretch four or 5 times a week. A large proportion of the vehicles are buses - but a much larger proportioin of the 4 foot violations are buses. I say target. 1) Bus drivers are skilled and trained, so it's reasonable to think violations are deliberate, hostile actions. 2) Bus drivers are likely to be more responsive to focused action than, say, drunkards in pickup trucks. 3) There is available evidence from cameras. 4) Bus Drivers get paid through fares and taxes - in other words, WE pay them. 5) For me at least, a large protion of the danger of my commute would be removed if the bus drivers drove correctly.
2014-01-21 20:33:01
I think on the whole cars are probably more likely to buzz a cyclist than a PAT driver, who are better trained and less likely to be drunk or distracted. The problem is that getting buzzed by a bus is terrifying because of how long it takes the bus to go by. Getting buzzed by a car takes a fraction of a second, but a bus is a much longer process. It means much less margin for error because you can't move or take any evasive action. It means there's a much larger chance of road debris causing the cyclist to slide into the rear wheels. I think that combined with @Mick's points makes them a reasonable target.
2014-01-21 21:18:34
"1) Bus drivers are skilled and trained, so it’s reasonable to think violations are deliberate, hostile actions. " Eh, I think they're just playing the odds, trying to get through tight spaces and hoping nothing happens FWIW, I've been riding by the West Mifflin Bus Depot for about five years, a lot of that time five days a week in a situation where there's no shoulder and opposing traffic coming down the hill. Although I've been hit by a bus in the city, those drivers pretty much always give me a decent amount of space and one time a guy even offered to give me a ride up the hill. Actually another time a driver did too, but that was closer to where I work
2014-01-24 13:38:39
“1) Bus drivers are skilled and trained, so it’s reasonable to think violations are deliberate, hostile actions. ” Eh, I think they’re just playing the odds, trying to get through tight spaces and hoping nothing happens
Agreed. That does not excuse it, of course, but there is a distinction to be drawn between outright hostility and simple incompetence. "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
2014-01-24 20:13:23
I recently had to explain to a PAT driver that a ConnectCard could contain both a pass and a cash balance. It wouldn't surprise me if some have still never connected this "4 foot law" they've maybe heard of with their own behavior.
2014-01-24 21:50:49
Steven wrote:I recently had to explain to a PAT driver that a ConnectCard could contain both a pass and a cash balance. It wouldn’t surprise me if some have still never connected this “4 foot law” they’ve maybe heard of with their own behavior.
The connect card would make so much more sense if you could load cash on to it and check your balance via a website using a credit card. I know they were doing a beta of this a while ago (for certain route riders), but I don't think you'll get widespread adoption of these cards until this is rolls out and they stop accepting printed monthly / weekly pass cards. Hell, even allowing a pay-by-phone type system would be an improvement over going to a giant eagle, or port authority service station. I'm just complaining, feel free to ignore me, I never ride the bus anyway since my bike is more convenient for me in most cases (but I do have a connect card in my wallet with an unknown balance, just in case I have a mechanical and need to get home).
2014-01-27 12:19:52
Benzo wrote:The connect card would make so much more sense if you could load cash on to it and check your balance via a website using a credit card.
Supposedly it should show your balance any time you use it (though, since I work at Pitt, I don't actually use one), but they are still testing online payment & acct management:
2014-01-27 12:47:48
If you have both a pass and a balance on the card, it won't show the balance when you use it. I believe it does if you have only a cash balance. However, you can check the balance by just tapping it at any ConnectCard machine. I was in the beta for the online ConnectCard site last year. I guess I still am, but I found the machines were much more convenient for checking my balance or adding money. The web site was ineptly designed, hard to use, but functional. It hasn't changed since I tried it last year. I'd use it if I never went near a ConnectCard machine. And it's more convenient that visiting the downtown service center for those tasks you can't do at a machine, but can online (like checking if you were incorrectly charged by reviewing recent transactions, or buying an annual pass).
2014-01-27 17:32:27
reddan wrote:
Pierce wrote: “1) Bus drivers are skilled and trained, so it’s reasonable to think violations are deliberate, hostile actions. ” Eh, I think they’re just playing the odds, trying to get through tight spaces and hoping nothing happens
Agreed. That does not excuse it, of course, but there is a distinction to be drawn between outright hostility and simple incompetence. “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
So last night I was riding the 75 home from work when the driver twice buzzed by a cyclist on Ellsworth by about 1 foot clearance. When I reminded the driver of the 4 foot law when I got off at my stop, her response was "If they don't give me 4, I don't give them 4." I'd say this constitutes hostility. So... actions I've taken so far: filing one of the driver complaint forms online as well as sending the email below to the CEO of the Port Authority. Hopefully this has some effect. Dear Ms. McLean: I am writing to follow-up with a driver complaint form that I just filled out online. I have pasted the text of this complaint below. A summary is that the driver does not understand the necessity to pass cyclists with a minimum distance of 4 feet. This law is critically important to the safety of vulnerable road users such as citizens commuting via bike. Even close passes by large buses can create wind gusts sufficient to knock over a cyclist leading to injury and the possibility of being hit/run over by the back of the bus. I believe the US DOT Secretary Foxx best stated the importance of safety for cyclists in his blog ( just 2 days ago: "...about 1/3 of bike trips are taken by people who make less than $30,000 per year. In many communities, people are riding bikes because that’s how they get to work. So this isn’t just an issue of recreation; it’s an issue of equality, bringing people together, expanding the middle class, and helping people who are trying to get into the middle class. It's an issue of making sure, when someone’s only or best option to get to work is a bike, that they have an option to ride it, and ride it in safety." I hope that you can take actions to re-educate your bus drivers about the importance of safety with respect to cyclists and other road users and take punitive actions on drivers that disregard safety due to prejudiced viewpoints. I welcome your response and look forward to hearing what actions you take to create safer roads in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Best, Rob
2014-03-07 10:56:18
That's a very well-written letter which I hope gets a good response from PAT. Perhaps you should consider sending a copy to Fitzgerald? I'm hoping that some of Peduto's pro-bike stuff has rubbed off on him. Also, not to assign you work, but since you seem to be that kind of guy -- the Port Authority Board is having a meeting 3/28. You or anyone interested can request to speak by filling out the form at BTW, is anyone here in Dom Costa's district (Morningside)? He's on the Performance & Oversight Committee, which I guess would deal with this kind of issue. I would think contacting him might go a ways towards getting PAT to shape up in this area.
2014-03-07 11:14:44
More homework, this is at least the third eggregious bit of bus behavior reported in the last 2 months on this board (Stef B's being dangerously cut off in the slop and the bus crowding cyclist and blowing through a stop on February Flock ride being the other two I can think of). If we can get that noted here that would be a plus. We have the means to make these particular drivers accountable, let's use it.
2014-03-07 12:02:48
Excellent letter. One fine point to it though - I would have made it more obvious that you observed the drivers behavior as a passenger on the bus, and that you found this behavior objectionable as a PAT CUSTOMER. That is all.
2014-03-07 14:37:51
jonawebb wrote:BTW, is anyone here in Dom Costa’s district (Morningside)? He’s on the Performance & Oversight Committee, which I guess would deal with this kind of issue. I would think contacting him might go a ways towards getting PAT to shape up in this area.
Costa's district, at least this year, also includes most of Bloomfield, Garfield, Friendship, Shadyside, and Stanton Heights, as well as Millvale, Etna, and Sharpsburg Boroughs and a substantial amount of Ross and Reserve Townships. See the map here: Effective with this year's elections, Costa loses Shadyside and Garfield, and gains Upper and much of Central Lawrenceville, a bit more of N Oakland, and Aspinwall and a weird finger of Ohara Twp:
2014-03-10 17:08:45
Sorry for the delay. Late Friday, Jim Ritchie, the PAT Communications director responded to me. I am reasonably satisfied with his response (below).
Hi Rob, Ellen forwarded your email from this morning as she knew I was aware of the incident via the complaint and Twitter. First, let me say we’re very sorry that this occurred. In this case, after seeing the tweet, my group reported this to Operations. They intended to 1) address this operator specifically about the comment, behavior and clarify the law, and 2) issue a reminder about the four-foot law to all operators working out of the same bus division. Going forward, if you encounter similar issues, don’t hesitate to let me know. I’d ask that you still file the complaint via Customer Service online/phone, but then email me directly. I will work directly with the head of our Road Operations department to appropriately address. Again, very sorry. If you wish to discuss or have questions, feel free to call me. Jim
2014-03-10 17:13:33
jonawebb wrote:BTW, is anyone here in Dom Costa’s district (Morningside)? He’s on the Performance & Oversight Committee, which I guess would deal with this kind of issue. I would think contacting him might go a ways towards getting PAT to shape up in this area.
By the way, also on this committee: - Lawyers David White and Jeffrey W. Letwin - PennDOT D11 Community Relations Coordinator and Pittsburgh NAACP President Constance Parker - and Amanda Green Hawkins, a Steelworkers union lawyer and County Council Rep for district 13, which includes Bellevue Boro and about a third of the City, including the entire North Side; Downtown, the Strip, and all three Lawrenceville wards; and Allentown, Beltzhoover, and the South Side Flats and Slopes.
2014-03-10 17:21:32
^^^^ Rgrasmus - nice job! Hopefully at least one bus division now has fresh training on the four foot rule and the need to follow it for safety.
2014-03-10 17:22:28
jonawebb wrote:BTW, is anyone here in Dom Costa’s district (Morningside)? He’s on the Performance & Oversight Committee, which I guess would deal with this kind of issue. I would think contacting him might go a ways towards getting PAT to shape up in this area.
Also relevant: PAT's Planning & Stakeholder Relations Committee "shall have primary responsibility for engaging Port Authority's customers, elected officials, other stakeholders and constituencies, and the general public," including "Overseeing the development and implementation of strategies to foster a positive public image for Port Authority, and for maintaining close, positive relationships between Port Authority and its customers and key external stakeholders." ....
2014-03-10 17:41:17
@RGrasmus - very nice! Thank you, sincerely, for taking the time and initiative. I really appreciate it. It's things like this that will eventually tip the scales. Thank you again. Sincerely, V.
2014-03-10 20:51:50
From Philadelphia: In the wake of a May incident where an aggrieved cyclist who apparently thought he'd been passed too closely stopped a SEPTA bus in traffic for over half an hour, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia last week published a guide to "Best Practices for Riding a Bicycle Next to a Bus":
2016-06-06 16:11:30
As a possibly non-representative observation: In the last while I've found bus drivers to be pretty considerate: I get adequate space on passing, and the bus will even hang back when there's no room to pass. Maybe it's my particular experience or maybe PAT's driver re-education program somehow succeeded. Of course tomorrow I just might get run over by a bus and this will be moot.
2016-06-06 17:48:23
I like taking the lane to avoid this exact type of near collision. The cyclist was riding in and out of the parking lane and travel lane. This can be considerate to drivers, allowing them to pass more easily. It also leads to what we see on the video, a vehicle trying to squeeze by, passing in the same lane as the cyclist.
2016-06-08 10:35:33