A Rule in the Head is Worth Less Than Two Flying Away, Forgotten and Ignored

18 03 2009

 Every (Bus) Rose Has Its Thorns, or, The Wheels of the Bus(driver's Head) Go Round and Round

A story about mindset:

So, I’m doing my elaborate workday ride routine:  ride from work to home, hook up the trailer, roll  a couple miles down the road to the daycare to get Ro-Ro, ride back up to the office, feed Rohan, pack up the trailer and the bike in the car, and then get the wife–the way I do things to fit some riding in.  But back to the story:  I’m coming up Ardee toward Gallatin (for those with Nashville acumen), at the end of what is about the most back-roads way to my house.  In other words, I’m not in high-speed commute mode (though maybe I should have been, because I ended up being late to pick up the Ro. Ah well).

As I’m coming to the top of this gradual rise, a city bus passes me, a bit close but perhaps better than most Metro buses, which seem to be on a mission usually to snag as many messenger bags, saddlebags, and whatever else they can clock with a big side-view mirror.  This driver gives me a generous two feet, and maybe was pushing three.  Kudos to him.

The only problem was that he was doing that at the crest of the hill (poor visibility) that has a curve (even poorer visibility) and, as it so happens, a pick-up truck was coming from the other direction.  The driver of the truck, though, had to slow the progress of her journey to move way over to the outside of her lane and slow down to get out of the way of the bus–the driver of which had made a number of simultaneous bad decisions.

Of course, it being a bus, it did so to only go another 150 yards down the road to stop at a bus stop.  So, I took the opportunity to have a chat with the driver.

Rolling up to his side of the bus, I stop next to his window, where I can see he’s been eying me coming up the side.  We look at each other for a second, and then I say, very calmly:

Me:  “Really?  In the middle of an uphill turn, with bad visibility, and oncoming traffic, you decide to pass me?”

Driver:  “I didn’t get in their way.”

Me:  “Come on now; I was right behind you.  I could see everything.  She had to slow down and swerve.  Wouldn’t it have been safer to just wait?”

Driver:  “I gave you room.”

Me:  “Look, it’s not about that.  I’ve had a number of near-misses with city buses because they don’t give any room at all, or like now, they take a bunch of risks to get around me.  Two seconds, that’s all:  two seconds more, and you would have been over the hill, through the curve, and you and your passengers would have been safer [ed. I made sure to lead with that, wanting to emphasize that it really wasn't just about me], I would have been safer, the driver in the other lane would have been safer, even the people behind you would have been too.  Two seconds–that’s all that would have taken.”

[Traffic's building up now, so I start to clip in.  As I pull away, I hear:]

Driver:  “I hear you sir; but I gave you three feet.”

Me:  [yelling back toward the bus] “You don’t get it.  That’s not the only consideration.”

And there you have it.  A fine example of what I’m sure goes through a lot of drivers’ minds, be they behind the wheel of a city bus or their lil ol’ Fit:  if I obey this one rule, then I’m doing what I should.

Since when does that fly?  When you’ve got the broken yellow line giving you the okay to pass on some back road in the car, do you still pass when there’s a car coming zipping along in the other direction?  I would say I doubt it, but instead, I’ll just say I hope not.

I’m preaching to the choir, I know (consider it a danger of my profession), but let me put this in a simple, straight-forward way: 

When on the road–in a car, bike, moped, truck, bus, whathaveyou–there are multiple rules and laws with which one must comply SIMULTANEOUSLY. 

Obeying one doesn’t mean you get to chuck the rest out of the window.  Thank goodness I hadn’t picked up the Ro yet.

Outside of that, though, today was great.  Good ride home, and the Ro had fun on the ride back up to the hospitals.

Though I’m saving up steam for a later rant about how so many pedestrians and cyclists also forget the basics of sharing a roadway that a greenway is about the most sketchy place to ride, ever.  Especially with a trailer.

Lest I forget, always remember to:

Ride smart, stay safe, have fun.

DAJ

P.S.  Next post gets away from cycling stuff.  I had grand plans to alternate between subjects, but I’ve been mulling some stuff over–thinking about soma (and no, not the bike brand), illness, language, treatment, racing ahead of ourselves, and blahblahblah.  In other words, one of those other realms of life that keeps my brain racing.  DAJ

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One response

28 12 2012
Ann Vollmer

One of the many things we learned at D.A.: driving is a privilege (that can be taken away from us when warranted). Somehow it can be easy to forget that?

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