CRAIG Bush now knows what it’s like to have a 12-tonne bus bearing down on him on the road.
He’s usually the one driving the bus, but in a road-awareness workshop in Kilbirnie he got to swap the safety of his driver’s seat for a cycle saddle.
“I am used to having my rear vision mirrors,” he says. “Not being able to see cars until they were right behind me was intimidating.”
But while drivers have an obligation to look out for cyclists, cyclists have an obligation to keep the flow of traffic going, too: “If they can’t keep pace they need to get off the road.”
Craig was one of 14 cyclists and bus drivers who switched places at the Greater Wellington Regional Council training session to understand each other’s experiences on the road – and exchange tales of near misses and pet peeves.
Many of the cyclists who got behind the wheel were surprised at the lack of visibility bus drivers have.
“I have a new respect for bus drivers – it was scary,” says Natasha Hayes. “It was good to know that you actually can’t see much.”
The group discussed issues such as cyclists wearing headphones while riding, the dangers of cyclists cutting through Lambton bus interchange, and bus drivers being dazzled by cyclists’ head lamps.
They also discussed the need for patience and courtesy on the road, and the issue of sharing bus lanes. Some are shared and some are not, but it is often not clear..
The workshop is the fourth since June last year, and Greater Wellington is keen to hold them every three months.
“There’s a shortfall in cyclist training in New Zealand, and Greater Wellington and CAN [Cycling Advocates’ Network] are keen to see that improve,” says Simon Kennett, Greater Wellington’s active transport and road safety co-ordinator.
He says they are hoping new regional cycling maps being released in September will clarify the bus lane issue.
“There’s a lot of confusion about where cyclists are allowed to use bus lanes, and how to get through intersections safely.”
There have been 24 accidents between buses and bikes in the Wellington region in the last five years, although they have dropped off in the last two years, with only two in 2009 and one last year.
Too close for comfort
A cycle commuter known as Wellington Bike Cam posts videos of the cycling experience around Wellington streets. This YouTube clip shows the Airport Flyer whizzing past a cyclist: