Metro Buses Harass Two Bike Advocates

Last Friday, two local bike advocates had run-ins with Metro buses on the streets of L.A. Fortunately, neither rider was seriously injured, although Enci Box did sustain bruises moments later when a car driver veered in front of her with a "right hand hook."

Via Soap Box LA:

She looked over her left shoulder at the approaching traffic and saw an 18 Wheeler in the #1 lane and a Metro Rapid Bus (750) in the #2 lane. They were side-by-side and traveling at the same speed.

Enci had parked cars to her right and no room to spare. She held her line, with only inches between her and the parked cars. There were only a few parked cars remaining before the Boulevard opened up and the #2 lane widened.

The Bus Operator did not slow down and had no room to move to the left. He passed Enci with inches to spare. Enci had no wiggle room at all.

She did not see the Operator but she was able to get the 4-digit number off the Bus. She was shaken, she was pissed and, in an expression of frustration, she yelled at the bus as it drove off down Ventura Boulevard, still side-by-side with the 18-Wheeler.

She continued on her journey, westbound on Ventura Boulevard, still in the #2 lane when a motorist passed her and then made a hard right turn (the "right hook") across her line and into the corner gas station.

Enci was able to avoid the vehicle, braking and turning hard left and then right, but ended up losing control of the bike and she hit the ground, hard.

As she lay in the street, she was unable to get up off the ground because her left arm and left leg wouldn’t take her weight. No motorists traveling the same direction stopped to help and none of the motorists waiting at the light offered assistance. A pedestrian stepped out to help her get to the curb and to collect her bike.

Eric Richardson had a less violent experience, but a jarring one none the less. 

Via Blog Downtown:

I’m riding eastbound just a bit past Santa Monica, in the bike lane but hugging the left edge because I have this thing about not wanting to get doored. An articulated Metro Rapid 714 comes up behind me, starts honking, and continues to do so until he’s halfway past me. Despite no significant traffic, he’s up against the bike lane so tight that the bus is hanging over the line and coming into my already narrow space.

This being LA and bus speeds being what they are, I pass him a couple more times. Each time he gets into the horn while coming back around me. Each time I fight my urge to emulate Will Campbell and give the driver a few choice words, instead just shaking my head at him.

Right before the climb up to Alvarado I move into the traffic lane to pass a bus that had stopped in front of me. The driver of the 714 proceeds to lay on the horn solid for maybe 10 seconds. As we start up the hill I turn and just point and glare at him. He stayed behind me most of the way up, then went around in the left lane and got away by running a super-late yellow at Rosemont.

In the end, I lost this fight by not being alert enough to take down the bus number so that I could file a report against the driver. While to me this is just another part of riding in L.A., I can only imagine how disconcerting it would be to a casual cyclist to have a bus driver use his horn in a clearly intimidating manner and then infringe on the cyclist’s own lane.

In both instances, the bus drivers are clearly in the wrong. In Box’s case, the driver ignored the safety of the cyclist by not slowing down so that he could provide more room to the bike rider while passing. In Richardson’s, the driver violated city law when blowing his horn without there being a safety issue.

Metro employess and cyclists should be allies in the war against car culture, but as Richardson sums up his post, "Actions like this all too frequently illustrate how seldom that’s the case."

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