Bus-Bike Workshop a Success

Last Wednesday saw the previously postponed Bus-Bike Workshop finally happen in Riccarton. Organised by the Cycling Advocates Network (CAN), this was an opportunity for some urban bus operators to join with some regular bike riders to compare notes and better understand how to interact with each other on the streets.

CAN's Rose Dovey leads the workshop
CAN’s Rose Dovey leads the workshop

Although we started at the Chateau on the Park, most of the workshop took place on the surrounding local streets. Bikes were provided for those who didn’t have one and a few warm-up exercises made sure that everyone was road-ready.

A quick spin around the cones to get our cycling legs on
A quick spin around the cones to get our cycling legs on

While some of the bus drivers were regular bike riders too, others were less familiar, and there was even one who hadn’t really ridden much at all. But a friendly circuit of quiet streets enabled everyone to take part in the outdoor activities.

CAN's Richard Barter points out key things to watch when starting off riding
CAN’s Richard Barter points out key things to watch when starting off riding

An interesting exercise was to consider when someone following you seems too close; this can be a concern for bike riders when a bus is behind them in a narrow shared lane. The effect was mimicked during the workshop by looking at how comfortable it is to walk or bike closely behind someone else; a general consensus seemed to be that a four second gap made things much less stressful when being followed.

How close is too close when following?
How close is too close when following?

We also discussed where a bike rider might position themselves on the road and why they might do that. Situations such as parked car doors and roadside debris were discussed, as well as the concept of “taking the lane” to deter unsafe overtaking.

Checking out how far out to pass parked vehicles
Checking out how far out to pass parked vehicles

Another interesting exercise was to stand on the side of the road and see what it feels like when a bus passes close by. Estimates were made of just how close the bus had been, and whether it felt comfortable.

How close is comfortable for a passing bus?
How close is comfortable for a passing bus?

The outside activities concluded with an opportunity for cyclists to see what it is like to sit in the bus-driver’s seat and note where the blind spots are (hint: quite a few!). There was also the chance to have a go with the front bike rack to see how that worked.

Trying out a bus, inside and out
Trying out a bus, inside and out

After the activities, the group returned to the Chateau for a bit of food and some wrap-up thoughts. Having had the experiences from both sides makes for some valuable discussions between all parties, and hopefully this will lead to better on-road behaviours in the future. The driver trainers present from the bus companies can also ensure that their new drivers get the message about safe road-sharing from day one.

One of the bus company reps said that they had also been compiling a list of complaints from cyclists about bus-driver behaviour and they were keen to have another workshop to bring these two groups together to learn from each other. Hopefully in the future, these workshops will be a regular feature in Christchurch and cycling will be the better for it.

Do you think that these workshops are a valuable exercise?

1 thought on “Bus-Bike Workshop a Success”

  1. Interesting – I went to a truck workshop earlier in the year and came away feeling a bit beaten up as a cyclist, and not sure about it being a valuable exercise at all in as much as I have lots of access to the way motorists (and truckies) feel about cyclists by reading the comments in the media (an mostly it is not good.

    What you describe here seems to have included a bit more of how it feels to be a cyclist so it would be interesting to see how the cyclists in this workshop felt.

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