Bus drivers, managers need to be taught rules of the road


To the Editor:

On May 3rd, I was involved in an accident with a VTA bus. while on my bicycle. 

I was not injured, but my bicycle needed repair to the hydraulic braking system which cost $120. 

Now, I wasn’t going to mention anything publicly about this, as accidents happen, but after interacting with one of the managers at the VTA , I had a change of heart. 

So to the story: 

The construction was still going on at the drawbridge at the time. I was coming from O.B. and heading to 5 Corners. I was at the front of the line and got to the top of the bridge where I could go to the right without inconveniencing any vehicles. So there was a line of vehicles that passed me on the stretch of road between the bridge and the Shell station, where they started to slow down as we all approached 5 corners. I had noticed a diesel VTA bus passing me around the vicinity of Granite electric. As the bus went around the curve at the shell station, I noticed it drifted into the bike path. No big deal, it’s a bus after all, I thought. But shortly after that, on the straight stretch of road, the bus drifted into the bike lane again. At this point I was directly behind it, as traffic was slowing down and I was now overtaking  vehicles. I have a headlight on my bike, and purposely wiggled back and forth a little hoping to catch the driver’s attention by creating bright movement in the side mirror. I thought I had succeeded as the bus moved back into the vehicle lane, and the driver should have been aware that I was there, as they had passed me less than a minute before and the bus was going pretty slow at this point. As I began to pass the bus on that straight stretch of road near the MVTimes offices, it drifted back into the bike lane, and gave me nowhere to go but into the curb. I yelled, and managed to keep the bike up just long enough to fall into the road about 2 ft behind the bus, rather than under the back wheel. It really could have been messy. The bus stopped. As I was picking myself and my bike up, the driver came to the bottom step of the bus and irritatedly asked me why I was passing the bus. I said “this is a bike lane, and you are in it.” 

They looked shocked that there was a bike lane there, and looked to see where the tires of the bus were, which were at least 1/2 way into the bike lane. Without a word of apology or concern for me, they drove away. 

Ok, I’m happy to be alive, and not everyone has compassion. I’m nearly 71 years old by the way. 

So I spoke with one of the manager’s at the VTA and  told them the bike needed repair and that I wanted to see the video, as sometimes people have different perceptions of what really happened. They agreed to pay the bill, which I submitted but have not gotten reimbursed for yet. 

But the reason I am writing this is because of the manager’s response after they saw the video (I have not).

The manager agreed that the bus clearly intruded well into the bike lane, but said that if I wanted to pass the bus, I should have been doing it like a car, and pass on the left side of the bus: That is on the centerline of Beach Road, in heavy traffic. 

So I feel the need to put some pressure on the VTA about how to drive a bus, how to treat people when you run them off the road, what a bike lane is, and to not encourage people to ride their bikes on the center line while passing a bus, or for that matter, to ever ride their bike on the centerline of a two way street. 

Somebody is going to die if they don’t figure out what a bike lane is, how to deal with bicycles and how to drive a bus. 

Don Keller

Vineyard Haven