With the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) planning Bus Rapid Transit in the area, there’s a debate among local cyclists in Silicon Valley on the preferred bike lane treatment around city bus pullouts.
VTA’s preferred option is to run a bus-only lane in the median of El Camino Real, but the cities of Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Los Altos have nixed that idea, forcing VTA to design for a “BRT-lite” with traditional bus pullouts in the right lane just like they have now.
Silicon Valley cycling advocates are using the opportunity of a major redesign of El Camino Real to submit ideas for improved cycling on this historic byway.
A significant number of people believe running the bike lane to the right of a bus pullout is a safe option. The bus pulls over and stops to the left of the bike lane, allowing cyclists to pass to the right of the bus. These “bus islands” are apparently used in Seattle, as shown here:
Some of these folks cite the example of “world class cycling cities” (e.g. Copengagen and Amsterdam). In those cities, however, cyclists are required to stop behind the bus. Planners in northern Europe learned long ago that sending vehicles through the passenger loading zone is a recipe for disaster.
People like me think “no way” to these bus islands. Pedestrians boarding and exiting the bus will get clobbered by passing cyclists. cyclists should pass stopped traffic, including stopped city buses, to the left.
The “pass on the right” crowd claim that passing buses on the left is “terrifying” and “dangerous.” My response: emulate your cycling cousins in the “world class cycling cities” and just stop behind the bus. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I would like to demonstrate how to pass a bus on the left. I have my GoPro helmet cam, but I need a volunteer to ride in front of me to demonstrate :
- Checking back for traffic
- Merging far left into the lane where the bus driver can see you.
- Staying in the lane until you’ve safely passed the pass.
I’ll be in downtown San Jose around 5 PM on Thursday. Let me know if you’d like to participate. You must be comfortable in heavy, downtown traffic. The video will be posted to YouTube.
Thanks for the help.