Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bus Drivers & Bikers

I had an interesting conversation last night with one of the city bus drivers when I decided to take my bike home from work but did not want to ride all the way up to the WARL shelter first. Riding the 80 bus up North Capital St. I took a position up in the front of the bus both since I typically prefer to leave seats open on crowded busses for others and so I could watch that my bike doesn’t decide to go for a ride with someone other then me. Not sure how often or real the threat is but I recently saw something (I think) on Washcycle talking about bike thefts off the front of metro busses. Not my idea of fun there.

I rode quietly for the first half of the ride but as I stared out the front window watching the ridiculous things the bus driver was having to put up with I asked him how he could handle driving a bus through that everyday. We started talking about bad drivers in the city and eventually the conversation moved on to bikers. As I was wearing jeans with the leg rolled up, a regular jacket and a cycling cap the driver assumed I was a messenger and started to tell me how he was cool with messengers since they are out there all the time and that is their job, but those commuters that don’t know how to ride in the city are the ones that bug him.

I slipped in the conversation slightly after that point and told him I was actually a commuter but I understood what he was saying about people riding through the city doing ridiculous things. I’m sure if I’d been dressed differently he probably would have told me that he hates the messengers but the commuters are ok. Later in our conversation he was talking about the crazy things he’d see some riders (calling them messengers though I’m sure not all were actually messengers) and just generally changed his stance to disliking the bikers who are out there riding in a “kamikaze” style as he described it. Those guys freak him out; me too. I don’t always wait for red lights and do sometimes ride through cars and between traffic lanes where I probably shouldn’t but I don’t think I get all “kamikaze” on their asses. He later began to talk about how he hated to see the people out on their beach cruisers riding through the city and that they were the ones that were really bad.

Anyway, the overall feeling I got from the driver was that he was happy see people out riding bikes but he seemed to have something bad to say about all of them (though he did not mention the spandex clad “racers” at all). Unfortunately it was probably just a few bad apples that left the sour taste in his mouth but hopefully it doesn’t taint his overall views on cyclists. Having public transportation workers on the side of cyclists and pedestrians would certainly be a better idea then not.


Freewheel said...

Nice diplomacy work.

theboy said...

In Denver, the messengers hate the bus drivers, but my experience is that the drivers rather like cyclists. Our buses have racks on the front, too, and the drivers are inevitably patient and helpful with whomever uses them. Twice this winter I've had them suggest a non-designated stop as leading to a route that has less snow! Amazing and cool.

I should note that I the out-source drivers never have a clue. They aren't mean. They just don't seem to have a clue about what they are doing.

KMAX said...

I just recently discovered the many benefits of the metro bus system and have sense then spent a good bit of time talking to the bus drivers. Every driver I have spoken with has always been extremely friendly and helpful including one giving me full directions for how to get home after finding out the holiday schedule was not actually in effect for MLK Jr. Day on the metro.