On a winter Tuesday morning in mid-January in severe (blustery and rainy) weather conditions I was riding my bicycle on the UCD campus in a chain of other bicycles westbound on Hutchison Dr just east of the Main Library bus stop. A stopped bus on the H line put on their left turn signal, started up, and began and continued to pull into the westbound traffic lane, forcing me and another adjacent cyclist into the oncoming, very traffic-filled eastbound lane. For several seconds (5-8) we were directly beside the bus, probably 2/3 of the way to the front, and the bus slowly but insistently essentially forced us out of the lane. The driver seemed to think that all they needed to do was signal their intentions and that it was our obligation to stop and/or get out of the way. Afterwards I looked behind me and observed that the bus could have waited 3-5 more seconds and had a clear lane to pull into.
This is a specific example of a more general attitude of bus driver entitlement, impatience and accompanying cyclist hostility that I have noticed develop in many Unitrans buses over the last year or two. Another case in point is the restriction in Hutchinson Rd. on campus just east of the library where I frequently observe buses signal, begin to play chicken and occupy both lanes, in spite of the fact that a cyclist has arrived first on the opposite side of the restriction and has the right of way. I believe the law says that they need to stop, let previously arrived traffic clear, and then proceed, expecting cyclists that arrive after they have the right of way to pause. It used to be that the Unitrans drivers shared the road and waited until there was room to make their maneuvers. This no longer seems to be the case and I can only attribute it to a lack of appropriate training. I am afraid there is a serious injury coming.
How are the drivers instructed to proceed and what are their “rules of engagement”. Is it expected that they comply with the law as they are supposed to everywhere in California? Or are they taught “might makes right” and to take the right of way even when it clearly doesn’t belong to them? Does anyone else get this feeling?
- Mont Hubbard, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering