Thursday, May 19, 2011

Give Metrobus a Wide Berth

Illustration from this Flickr

As frequent DC bike rider, I ALWAYS give Metro buses a SUPER wide berth. You never know what stunt they're going to pull. They're hulking menaces a lot of the time, second only to the "DC Flyer" cabs, which must be where failed Metrobus drivers end up.

From a reader:
In March, I was riding my bike northbound in the bike lane in the 1300 block of 7th Street, NW (between N and O Streets). A car was double parked, blocking the bike lane. I looked behind me, saw a 70 bus, but determined that I had enough time/space to ride into the travel lane in order to pass the double-parked car and then get safely back into the bike lane before the bus passed.

Well, I was wrong. The bus sped up and tried to pass both me *and* the double-parked car at the same time.

The bus didn't have room to do that safely. It ended up sideswiping me, sending me flipping over my handlebars, and landing in the bike lane about 10 feet away from my bike.

DC Fire/EMS came, took me to Howard University Hospital, they checked me out, and luckily I emerged from the incident with just a few bruises.

The bus, however, never even stopped. Since it was the back part of the bus that sideswiped me, I have my doubts if the driver even realized he hit someone (I don't know if the driver was able to feel the impact all the way up at the front of the bus).

I got in touch with a WMATA claims officer, and she recorded my account of the incident. She also got in touch with a witness who had given his contact info to a Metro police officer.

WMATA reimbursed me for the Fire/EMS bill, my hospital bill, the painkillers that were prescribed to me, the damage to my bike, and my clothing (my pants and jersey were torn to shreds).

I got my reimbursement check about one month after the accident, which is not too shabby.

However, as far as I know, the driver has yet to be found.

I wrote to my claims officer ten days ago: "I received my check, thank you very much. I'd like to follow up on whether the bus driver has been found, and if so what action has been taken?"

She wrote back today: "To this date, I have not received notice the bus operator in this incident was identified and/or located. The employee records containing disciplinary actions are confidential."

I wrote to ask her if this means that the case is closed, but I haven't received a reply yet.

OK, I'm happy to have received my settlement so quickly, and I'm even happier that I'm in one piece physically after the incident.

But don't I have the right to know if the driver was identified? It can't be too hard for WMATA to figure out who it was, when there are only a certain number of 70 buses driving northbound on that block at that time of day.
From Caitlin:
I think I've been flipped off more in this city by Metrobus drivers than by any other group. And, as a bike-commuter, that's saying something.

Case-in-point Thursday night. My boyfriend and I were walking home to Adams Morgan, when we had a close call with a 42 bus at the corner of Mount Pleasant St., Harvard and Columbia.

The bus driver blew through the stop sign, took the turn wide, and almost hit us in the crosswalk. He then proceeded to give me the finger when I yelled at him to watch it.

I really wish there had been a cop at the corner to pull the guy over ... or around any of the other times I have interactions with Metro staff.

Half of them deserve to be fired for recklessness and lack of attention to laws.
Other items:
Could the Dulles extension become the next Big Dig? (Washington Times)
Metro cocktails (Irish Breakfast)
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