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Cyclist speaks out about "bullyish" bus driving that prompted Transport for London investigation

"It just winds you up so much because it's bullyish behaviour, you have no option but to brake or you're going to get hit by a bus"...

Last week, for the 851st edition of our Near Miss of the Day series we shared a video from a London cyclist who was squeezed towards the kerb by a bus driver during an overtake.

In response to a request for comment from road.cc, Transport for London said the frightening incident, which took place in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and was captured by cyclist and road safety campaigner Lauren O'Brien, was "unacceptable" and an investigation had been launched.

> Near Miss of the Day 851: Transport for London launches investigation after "unacceptable" close passing bus driver squeezes cyclist into kerb

Now, speaking to the Metro, Lauren described the driving as "bullyish" and said that bus drivers often give London cyclists no choice but to brake to avoid a collision.

"That kind of thing does happen quite often," she said. "Where a bus is coming around a cyclist [who] knows they've got to stop. It was probably about half five, so the bus was definitely going to have to stop there and drop people off.

"What [bus drivers] do is get to a certain point where they're sort of halfway past you, then they start indicating, and at that point, you have to make the decision. I don't want to get squished by a bus, so I'm going to have to make a quick decision to brake, get out the way of the bus before I have a collision.

"It just winds you up so much because it's bullyish behaviour, you have no option but to brake or you're gonna get hit by a bus, so they're putting you in this horrible, impossible situation where you've got to just get out their way – which shouldn't be the case at all.

"I'm quite tough on the road and I'm quite tough to driving behaviour but sometimes it just gets a bit too much. When you have one thing, it's like, 'Okay, brush that off, that's annoying'. 

"But then if it's two, three, or four, things, it doesn't happen very often where I get emotional but [in that instance] it just all added up, and I was thinking, why am I getting treated like this for just choosing a brilliant, eco-friendly way around this beautiful city? Why is this happening to me?

"Sometimes you just want to, you know, go up to and be like, 'Why are you doing this? Do you know how scary this is when you drive like that? You clearly don't if you're doing that, you clearly don't understand why or you wouldn't do it'."

"Driving that endangers cyclists or pedestrians is unacceptable"

Transport for London's head of bus operations, Rosie Trew, told road.cc that the government body and RATP, who operate the route on TfL's behalf, are currently investigating the incident.

"Driving that endangers cyclists or pedestrians is unacceptable and far from the required standard of our bus drivers," Trew told us. "We are working with RATP… to investigate this incident and ensure it doesn't happen again."

> Driver "used bus as a weapon" against cyclist, loses appeal over sacking

TfL added that all London bus drivers are currently undertaking a Vision Zero training course, which aims to teach them new skills in hazard perception and to provide them with a better understanding of the risks to cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and passengers, along with ways to prevent driver fatigue.

TfL says the course is "designed to create the safety culture and attitudes" that will help the body achieve Vision Zero for London.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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9 comments

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henryb | 1 year ago
2 likes

When I regularly comuted to work in London, I found having a bike horn that bus drivers could actually hear was quite helpful - https://www.airzound.co.uk/

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UrbanCommuter | 1 year ago
2 likes

There is a solution to this and it's beautifully simple. Buses usually are required to have an engine kill switch on the right rear side. Sometimes it's a silver button on the outside, sometimes it's a black button under the 'engine oil' panel. After they've cut you up, go round the back of the bus, wait for it to stop again and hit the kill switch. Then cycle off. The bus will lose power and safely come to a stop, if it's not already stopped.

You might engage with the confused/irate driver but sooner or later, when they do it enough, they'll get it. I've spoken to the police about this approach and basically, if you're not confident that the driver is giving their full attention to other road users (based on the fact that they've just endangered you), the only safe way to negotiate past them may be to take them out of the loop altogether. So the law more or less has your back.

Problem solved. The driver has a three minute time out to consider his actions.

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silkred | 1 year ago
12 likes

This is a classic manoeuvre - it happened to me 1000's of times - 20 years ago in London and the other day in Brighton and everything in between - the other day the bus had 200 yds from the lights to the stop yet chose to overtake me and then when in about the same relative position as this video indicated and forced me to brake and get out of the crush zone - its fueled by a sort of entitled impatience - a sort of feeling that as they are conveying more people they have rights above everyone else - as a cyclist we are simply vulnerable and so these moments are actually really difficult because simply put they are actually really dangerous while at the same time really pointless. I rode on just feeling disappointed at the behaviour of a fellow human person towards another.

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wtjs | 1 year ago
11 likes

Driving that endangers cyclists or pedestrians is unacceptable and far from the required standard of our bus drivers," Trew told us. "We are working with RATP… to investigate this incident and ensure it doesn't happen again

We have been through this before. The investigation takes a couple of minutes- they have the video- so what is taking the time is the delaying tactic in the expectation that people soon forget about an individual incident, and the moving the words around in the standard response to make it appear to be a genuine response. It will include 'we take this very seriously' and 'we must ensure this does not happen again', in the full knowledge it will happen again and there will then be no real consequences for the driver either. You will know that society is really taking it seriously when the driver gets points on his licence or at least a compulsory driving course (not the joke online ones!). Anything else is worthless, and demonstrates that society is definitely not taking the offence seriously

Lancashire Constabulary has, as I never tire of writing, a deplorable attitude that if a cyclist wasn't KSI'd then the driver committed no offence- and if the cyclist was KSI'd then the only witness to what happened is the driver who says it was the cyclist's fault: Job Done! LC has now, as is usually the case, failed to comply with the FOIA and has not replied within the specified 20 working days to my FoI request about what actually happened to this driver. This is how the police work: keeping things secret!

http://3.4.22 https://upride.cc/incident/4148vz_travellerschoicecoach_closepass/

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Surreyrider replied to wtjs | 1 year ago
6 likes

That may be because they're fully engaged in trying to explain how they gave out private details in a missing person case - they really don't seem to be very good at their job.

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eburtthebike | 1 year ago
8 likes

Cyclist speaks out about "bullyish" bus driving....

Well, I for one am surprised that the cost of living crisis is so acute that Dominic Raaab has to moonlight as a bus driver.

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JustTryingToGet... | 1 year ago
14 likes

Generally speaking I've found London bus drivers OK... though my experience is generally only zone 1. I make sure I make eye contact in the mirrors then I'm good to go. The fact that I can usually make eye contact in the mirrors I put down to TFL having good training and bus drivers being used to cyclists on the routes I use.

That makes the driver Lauren reported worse. Professional driver, trained how to do things properly, chose to drive like an arsehole. Really glad she's taking it forward.

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Dnnnnnn replied to JustTryingToGetFromAtoB | 1 year ago
1 like

Agreed, they're generally very good - and that one wasn't.

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UrbanCommuter replied to Dnnnnnn | 1 year ago
1 like

They are generally good. I've posted just now about how to solve this problem but it's really becoming increasingly unnecessary. Bus drivers are educated enough to slow down and let you pass them before closing in to stop.

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