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Had a bad bike/bus experience? MTA wants to know!

November 15th, 2010 | Categories: Programs | 13 comments

The MTA needs to be seen as a partner to the cycling community.  Public transportation helps get more cars off the road and (except for MARC) is completely interactive with bikes!  On a personal level, MTA also gives me the chance to take a nap on my way home.

Last Wednesday on my multi-modal commute in, I was pedaling east on Baltimore St approaching the Charles Center Metro Stop in the right lane.  From my left, an MTA bus made an unnecessary leapfrog, bringing me within inches of my life.  I avoided the collision and made mental notes of the incident as I passed the now stopped bus on the left.  Like most of you, I’ve had some close calls with buses, nothing too serious, but this incident was different.   This was a clear case of vehicular harassment.

I got in touch with Joe Sietz at the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), who apologized for the incident.  Joe also wanted to know if any other cyclists have had less than favorable experiences with buses.  If you have (and I know many of you have), then post about it below

If you want change, make your voice heard!

  • Mark T

    I already submitted this as a complaint to MTA and Circulator, but why not crosspost it here… (this incident occurred on Friday)

    I was upset this morning to be cut off by not one but two buses as I exited the separated bike lane heading east on Pratt Street. As I crossed Pier 5, the #11 bus turned in front of me into the bus lane to drop off at the Pratt / Market stop, without noticing me in the center of the shared lane. A few seconds later, a Circulator bus pulled away from the stop, again directly in front of me. In both cases I was able to avoid a collision with minimal braking, but it was clear that neither driver had looked sufficiently to see me as they changed lanes. Given the city’s stated intentions to make Baltimore a friendly place for cyclists, I hope you will remind your drivers to be aware of the vulnerable road users around them, particularly in those areas where they operate around bike lanes. That being said, I’ve been commuting along the same route daily for the last three months and never had an issue with a bus, so this was clearly just an unlucky day.

  • Barry Childress

    Years ago we tried to get MTA to adopt additional training material and they strongly resisted. They insisted that the CDL manual and bikes are a hazard and to tap the horn at them was sufficient, I strongly disagree.

    I will also note that myself and Stacy Mink (then the Executive Director of One Less Car) were both run off the road into parked cars by an MTA bus. A crime of which would revoke a CDL license but of course the MTA refused to even talk to the bus driver let alone press charges.

    MTA police just protect bus drivers and bus drivers are free to harass cyclists with no consequence, this is not right.

  • Dukiebiddle

    I seem to have more problems with MTA Maryland Mobility Paratransit shuttles than with standard buses. I’ve had a few blast me with their horn (intending to startle) and yell at me to “get out the damn lane” at red lights.

    As for standard buses, I seem to have fewer conflicts lately than I used to a few years ago (Better training? Are they getting more accustomed to us? Am I doing something different? Dunno.) Sometimes I get leapfrogged a little too aggressively on Guilford between Mt. Royal and downtown, and occasionally on Guilford between Mt. Royal and North Ave. a bus may pass a little too closely. Maybe the bus drivers on designated bicycle infrastructure routes can be targeted first for better cyclist awareness training.

  • Michael L. Love

    I am a regular bicycle commuter in Baltimore city. Fortunately, such experiences have been rare for me. One time, several months ago, felt that I was being tailgated by the bus, and honked at, in a similar situation to yours. This happened on Charles street, and some of the waiting passengers at the bus stop took the opportunity to make disparaging remarks as well. I’ve had similar experiences before on Charles near the Fayette bus stop. It is so ironic to me, because I don’t own a car, and I consider public transportation authorities and riders to be my allies.

    I should add that I am very grateful for the recent improvements for bicyclists in the City of Baltimore, and indications are that we will see many more winter bicyclers this year. Cheers!


  • cyclist

    Coincidentally, I had multiple issues with a #3 bus headed downtown on St. Paul Street. We started traveling together in Charles Village, and as the driver would pull over to pick people up, I would wait for traffic to pass and then pass on the left. I seemed that the whole way down St. Paul (even when I purposely rode really slow to let the bus get ahead a block or so), everytime I caught up with the bus and passed it, the driver would speed up just to cut me off at the next stop.
    I’ve had issues before with buses of all lines passing way too closely, and I mean within a short arm’s length.

  • JamieM

    I haven’t been bike-commuting in Baltimore for long, but I recently had an experience with an MTA bus that gave me a small fright. I was riding up Fallsway just north of Madison (i.e. right next to the state penitentiary). i heard a couple of quick honks and the bus passed by me with about 12-18 inches to spare. The road is two lanes wide at this point, with sharrows and additional space for parked cars. i don’t think the bus driver was being malicious, but this person clearly didn’t give me enough space.

  • duderino

    On Guilford – south, Buses always come close to me. Freaks the hell out of me. I thought it was illegal to come within 3 feet now-a-days!

  • Donal

    My story pales in terms of safety, but I think it illustrates why people are frustrated with transit in general. I bike to and from light rail. It’s very convenient, except when it isn’t. Monday night I worked a bit late then picked up the train in Convention Center at about 6:25 PM. We stopped short of Centre Street and sat. The driver (motorman?) said we’d be underway momentarily. Time passed, and he again announced we’d be underway momentarily. We eventually lurched to Centre Street station, but he announced we’d be sitting for a while. And we did. Some woman pushed the emergency intercom to ask what was the problem. The driver replied, “The problem is we’re not moving,” then asked, “What is your emergency?’ and chided her for using the intercom. More time passed. The driver eventually announced that we had a catenary problem, and that we’d be sitting some more. Then we went. All told, it took an extra hour to get home with little or no explanation about how long it might take.

  • Davelove1

    When I’m biking I find that MTA buses, and buses in general, pass me much closer than cars. I don’t care how comfortable they are as drivers, they should realize that they weigh 15 tons more than I do. North Charles is particularly bad from the North Ave to 27th street

  • Lysh Lorber

    The Buses on The Alameda and York Rd often come within inches of me on my bike! So scary it takes my breath away!!!!!

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  • Chad

    As a regular bike commuter, I’ve had numerous buses pass me only to cut me off as they pull over at the next bus stop. On at least one occasion on St. Paul around Lombard, they didn’t even have the courtesy to finish passing me first, driving me straight into the curb at around 15mph. Luckily, I was able to bunny-hop my bike up onto the curb and stop, which scared the hell out of the people waiting at the bus stop, but avoided any injuries. The bus driver didn’t appear the least bit apologetic.

    The bus drivers may think it’s funny to “mess” with bicyclists, but to me, any accident with a bus would be life threatening.

  • Mark T

    FWIW, got a response from CCC today (2 wks later); still nothing from MTA except an out-of-office autoresponder.

    “Thank you for the input and this will be a topic at our safetymeeting in December as well as start up meetings in the am.”



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