Wednesday, May 19, 2010

beware the buses


So yours truly is typing this sentence in a wheelchair. Never fear, dear readers, I'll be back on two feet in six weeks or so. Pelvises take a while to mend. What happened? I've done got a case of "KAT scratch fever" on Friday.

I was riding my usual bicycle commute to downtown on Western Ave. The traffic was light and I was going fast down a hill. I hear rush of wind and look over my shoulder and a teal KAT bus was RIGHT THERE. Moving fast (over the speed limit) and filling the whole lane we were supposed to be sharing. To avoid getting hit I tried to move as far to the right as I could. With the roar of the engine right beside me I hit the curb, hit an awkward drainage vent, and jackknifed my front wheel. I went flying and hit the street hard, and broke my f'ing pelvis.

I feel fortunate that I didn't get hit. I'm an experienced cyclist and have ridden that route hundreds of times in all weather and traffic. All kind of cars have passed me, some cussing at me, but most doing the right thing. This bus driver, who ought to be one of the best drivers around, dangerously disregarded the rules of the road. Is this a trend?

Let's get this straight: bicycles are allowed on the road. They are legally considered vehicles. Cars (and busses) have to slow down to pass bicycles and give them a three foot buffer zone when they do. If a car can't pass safely, they have to remain behind the bicycle until they can. This is similar to how tractors on the road are treated in rural areas. If you have a problem with the current rules, contact your state representative have them try to change it. Until then, this is the law.


Those of you who drive out there, be careful around cyclists- especially Downtown. One feature of our recent urbanization is that there are are more people using bicycles to get around our town than ever before. So please watch out for us.

And for those of you who are bicycling out there to get to work, go to a show, or do your errands- don't let your guard down. Even places you bike everyday can suddenly become dangerous if one yahoo driver is added in the mix. Assume they're going to not see you. Get blinky lights for nighttime. Get a good helmet. And watch out for huge streaks of orange, teal, and silver.

21 comments:

em said...

I am so glad you are okay, CK. This is just a ludicrous situation, especially considering the fact that you ARE an informed cyclist and you do know the rules. It is abundantly clear that most drivers do not know, understand or care about the rules. But what's disappointing is that a bus driver should know those rules and should be accountable for following them with more care than the average driver.

Just like most professionals need to take yearly CLE courses to maintain their licenses, all drivers should too. Think about every driver out there who hasn't taken the time since the age of 16 to think about how serious the act of driving is. Scary.

The Modern Gal said...

This sounds like a job for Blue Steel.

Seriously, glad you're OK, CK.

Andrea said...

I'm glad you came away with nothing worse than a broken pelvis. That is awful! Did you report the bus driver? I'd like to know that he or she got reported so hopefully they're not on the road any more. Did they at least stop when you crashed?

ck said...

No, he just kept going. I'm writing a letter through my attorney to KAT to let them know what happened.

gexx said...

Oh my goodness! I'm glad you didn't get hit!

KAT is why I don't bike to work. I've tried twice and both times KAT buses have forced me off the road. None of the other drivers on Chapman Highway had an issue with sharing a lane with me when there wasn't a sidewalk available (yes, I know you're not supposed to ride on sidewalks, but it's Chapman Highway, and no one was walking).

Even though Knoxville has bike lanes and Greenways, they don't cover everywhere that people need to go! Drivers need to realize biker's rights!

Anonymous said...

I hope you have a quick and complete recovery, and I'm glad you're not injured worse than you are.

But to clarify, did the bus actually come within three feet?

Something as big as a bus, only three feet away, would seem to be "RIGHT THERE" to me if I was on a bicycle, and would no doubt spook me badly.

Did he get closer than that, or did he just startle you as he passed?

blueeyedtawni said...

i think i would post this in the
Knoxville news paper . i have noticed a lot of people disregard bicycles . ive always know to give them berth and go around if you have room and for god sakes people need to slow down.

bicycles do not go as fast as cars.
bad you have a broken pelvis but glad it wasnt nothing worse .

Anonymous said...

When I'm driving, I hate pedestrians. When I'm walking, I hate motorists. But I always hate bicyclists.

nate said...

Anonymous is struggling with morbid obesity; it's probably best we just ignore his comment until he gets it under control. Glad you're (mostly) well ck.

Anonymous said...

Nate is struggling with... something, obviously. All I wondered is whether the bus was really closer than three feet. Because, three feet seems awfully close to me.

I'm not an experienced cyclist. A bus suddenly passing me just three feet away (if I hadn't noticed it coming) would likely scare me into making a bad move.

I didn't mean to offend your delicate sensibilities, there, Nate. Mea Culpa.

Anonymous said...

And now I really feel foolish. I see that Nate was addressing the 11:07 pm comment and not the 2:39 pm comment (mine).

I apologize. Too many anonymouses spoil the broth.

Kevin said...

The only problem I have with bicyclists is when they take on two roles. If you want to be considered a car on the road, that's fine, motorists should abide by the rules and consider you one. However,that doesn't mean you get to run through stop signs and red lights because motorists cant do that. I've seen way too many bicyclists scream through crosswalks or stop signs and it does not help the perception of them as being the harmless victim in domestic transportation.

Anonymous said...

What do you use to keep your horned-rim glasses from falling off when your bicycling from your downtown loft to the hip coffee shop where you conspicuously blog on your Macbook? And where do you keep your PBR tall boy? I really want to be the best hipster I can be, so I thought I'd learn from the best. I'm setting my sights on the big leagues in Nashville. Not going fuck around too long with you small-time pussies.

em said...

Anonymous, they're called Chums. Get yourself a pair, and then your horn-rimmed glasses will stay on nice and tight. chums.com

And most bikes have drink holsters, so no worries about the PBR cans going flying either. We got you covered. Happy travels to Nashville.

Susanne said...

Wow, this is getting ugly. All joking and jabbing aside, it's serious business when someone gets HIT BY A BUS! To some of the various anonymouses out there: you don't have to be a Mac toting, PBR drinking hipster to expect a little safety and respect when choosing to ride a bike. There are plenty of old, young, hip and definitely not so hip bike commuters around town (and not just DOWNtown) who could have just as easily been spooked, swiped, smashed...whatever you want to call it. Why don't you stop being a jerk and contribute something useful or just keep your useless comments to yourself. On a slightly more positive note. Does anyone from the Smart Trips program know about this incident? They're the only organization I can think of who has a connection to both cyclists and KAT. Maybe they can help with a useful awareness effort.

Joe Ossenmacher-Bedford said...

Not relating to this situation specifically, but as a cyclist, sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns and move out into the center of the lane. This is to discourage motorists from attempting to pass when it is not safe to do so.

Take care of yourself, ck!

benjamin said...

Hope this eases the tension!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know the letter of the law -- "three feet buffer zone" and "if you can't pass a bicycle safely, stay behind it until you can" -- but that is what I do, anyway, when I run into a cyclist on the highways and byways of the little town in which I live.

Yet I have to be honest -- I do not like sharing the road with bicycles. It's not your fault, you law-abiding, environmentally conscientious cyclists. It's just -- you're tiny, and compared to my powder blue Prius, I always feel like I'm going to squash you. I wish someone would build you a lane that is all your own so I wouldn't feel like you're in danger all the time.

I'm just sayin'. Is all.

Also, CK, I wish you a speedy recovery with lots of fun painkillers in the meantime.

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