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News coincides with campaign urging people to send footage of poor bus driving to TfL

One in ten complaints about the behaviour of bus drivers in London are related to incidents involving cyclists, according to information obtained by the Evening Standard. The news comesas a road safety campaigner launches an appeal for footage of poor bus driving to be sent to a senior official at Transport for London (TfL).

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Standard to TfL found that cyclists were involved in 25 of around 250 incidents that were the subject of complaints made by the public during a two-week period last August.

In one of those, a number 45 bus hit a cyclist because the driver was apparently distracted by a female pedestrian, with the complainant saying: “He was concentrating on her so much that he didn’t see a cyclist and hit them.”

Another complaint recorded how a passenger saw the driver of a number 53 bus “overtake a cyclist causing her to be forced off the road and have to throw herself off the bike to ensure she did not get hit.”

However TfL said that the number of complaints received each year – between 4,000 and 5,000 – needed to be put into the context of the 2.4 billion passenger trips made by bus in the capital each year.

Director of buses Mike Weston said: “Passenger satisfaction is hugely important to TfL — in fact our organisational ethos is ‘every journey matters’.

“The statistics in question here must be considered in the context of the 2.4 billion bus journeys that are made each year across a bus network that comprises 8,700 buses, operating on around 700 bus routes and travelling more than 490 million kilometres in passenger service.” 

A TfL spokeswoman added: “Any complaint about a bus driver would be logged and passed on the relevant bus operator. The bus operating company then deals with the driver according to their internal disciplinary procedures. We do not share the outcome of disciplinary procedures.”  

The Standard says it had previously made Freedom of Information requests that covered a longer period, but TfL declined to answer them due to the amount of data involved.

Among other incidents logged during that two-week period in August were one in which a man crossing the road with his one-year-old son claimed a driver of a W13 bus went through a red traffic light.

Another related to the driver of a number 36 bus who was said to have “braked so harshly” at Hyde Park Corner that a pushchair, with a baby inside, was sent flying. When the mother asked him to be more careful, he is said to have replied: “This is how I always drive.”

The report follows the launch of an initiative by road safety campaigner Tom Kearney and the group Stop Killing Cyclists appealing for videos of poor driving by bus drivers in the capital to be uploaded to YouTube with the link emailed to TfL’s managing director of surface transport, Leon Daniels.

Mr Kearney, who tweets as @comadad, was left in a coma after he was hit by a bus on London’s Oxford Street shortly before Christmas 2009. A post published yesterday on his Safer Oxford Street blog outlines the #LondonBusWatch protest he has launched.

He developed the initiative after Mr Daniels rejected his suggestion that the TfL website should have a tab where people could upload footage of poor bus driving to enable such incidents to be investigated.

He said: “Instead of waiting around for TfL to do nothing, with the support of Stop Killing Cyclists, I am organising a Direct Protest Action called #LondonBusWatch.  Anyone with video footage of a TfL bus 'behaving badly' should upload it on You Tube and email the link and a brief report directly Leon Daniels (LeonDaniels [at] tfl.gov.uk) with a copy to me (comadad1812 [at] gmail.com) and Stop Killing Cyclists (contact [at] stopkillingcyclists.org).”

Mr Kearney added: “With 1.5 KSIs per day being created from collisions involving TfL Buses, it's time we showed TfL Management how its buses are really behaving on London's roads. And, with #LondonBusWatch, we can tell TfL Management it's time to make Bus Safety a priority.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

24 comments

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bashthebox [752 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh god yes.
Just today, in two separate incidents maybe a mile and a half apart, I had one double decker overtake at around 24mph in a 20 zone, on a bend, forcing me to brake hard to not get pushed into the kerb.
The second one was a bus overtaking at around 25 in a 20 zone through a traffic calming island, pulling across into my part of the road, 50 yards before pulling into a bus stop.

These 20 zones need enforcement. It's sodding ridiculous otherwise - I know all motorists say 'yeah but you never get anywhere if you stick to 20' but then how come I always end up overtaking the car when my average urban pace on the flat is around 20?

Grumble grumble rant rant

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musicalmarc [107 posts] 2 years ago
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I find that London buses have got much more aware of cyclists over the last 5 years. I'd often find buses overtaking then immediately indicating to stop and not judging my speed very well. They seem to be much more patient nowadays. Driving something the size of a bus must be pretty difficult on London roads, most of them aren't very large vehicle friendly. Maybe the option of sending something positive via the same website would be useful.

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bikebot [2118 posts] 2 years ago
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musicalmarc wrote:

Maybe the option of sending something positive via the same website would be useful.

I'd love to be able to do that. I've had occasional incidents with bus drivers, but on the majority of routes that I use regularly the drivers are great, they overtake safely and they hang back a safe distance until they can do so. I'd much rather have a bus behind me than a tipper truck, and it might help if there was a carrot for good driving rather than just the stick option.

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StoopidUserName [391 posts] 2 years ago
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As with any type of road user the bad ones are always in the minority thankfully and the vast majority of the time things are ok...but...

...and there is always a but...they are under time pressure from the bus companies. I haven't got the link anymore but theres a great blog somewhere that explains the reason for the high ksi rate on london's roads by buses and suprise suprise, it's down to forcing drivers to put timetables above road safety - or ultimately, putting money ahead of lives, the same reason HGV's/cabbies/coaches/white van men all have a bad reputation on our roads for agressive and impatient driving.

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shay cycles [405 posts] 2 years ago
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" Director of buses Mike Weston said: “Passenger satisfaction is hugely important to TfL — in fact our organisational ethos is ‘every journey matters’.

“The statistics in question here must be considered in the context of the 2.4 billion bus journeys that are made each year across a bus network that comprises 8,700 buses, operating on around 700 bus routes and travelling more than 490 million kilometres in passenger service.” "

Bollocks! Lets just consider it in the context of people get hurt when "professional" drivers drive badly. Or perhaps in the context that most people don't bother complaining. Or perhaps in the context that you really shouldn't be defending bad driving by saying that in general you are not too bad.

Sorry Mr Weston but we, the public, will decide in which context the statistics "must" be considered

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Jude87 [16 posts] 2 years ago
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Driver awareness is much better, but when you do have a close call it scares the s++t out of you simply because it is such a huge vehicle. My last incident with a bus - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-YBEK-JLqM

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thereverent [455 posts] 2 years ago
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Most bus drivers are ok, but there are too many who drive badly.
In central London its common to be overtaken by a bus that pulls in to a stop straight in front of you. Being a passenger isn't much fun with too many driver accelerating and braking harshly.

The bus companies and TfL don't help by setting very strict timetables with penalties for not meeting them, but a lot of the problems comes down to attitude.

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davenportmb [76 posts] 2 years ago
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"However TfL said that the number of complaints received each year – between 4,000 and 5,000 – needed to be put into the context of the 2.4 billion passenger trips made by bus in the capital each year."

Surely it's more appropriate to judge the number of complaints received against the number of buses on the road, not by the number of passengers on the buses? A number which I'm sure, while still large, is much smaller than 2.4 billion.

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atgni [450 posts] 2 years ago
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davenportmb wrote:

"However TfL said that the number of complaints received each year – between 4,000 and 5,000 – needed to be put into the context of the 2.4 billion passenger trips made by bus in the capital each year."

Surely it's more appropriate to judge the number of complaints received against the number of buses on the road, not by the number of passengers on the buses? A number which I'm sure, while still large, is much smaller than 2.4 billion.

Or at least miles travelled. Or better still number of drivers i.e. complaint / driver.

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darrenleroy [253 posts] 2 years ago
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The complaints procedure is deficient. Tfl passes the complaint a cyclist has made onto the bus company who may or may not do anything about it, but here's the killer. You as the complainant will never know because Tfl refuses to tell you the outcome of the complaint. For all we know the complaint is filed away in a cabinet.

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Duncann [1212 posts] 2 years ago
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London bus drivers are good in my experience. Not perfect, of course, but probably some of the best on the road.

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Alb [158 posts] 2 years ago
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If it's your job to drive professionally for a living how much leeway should we be giving the 'bad few'?

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FluffyKittenofT... [1974 posts] 2 years ago
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davenportmb wrote:

"However TfL said that the number of complaints received each year – between 4,000 and 5,000 – needed to be put into the context of the 2.4 billion passenger trips made by bus in the capital each year."

Surely it's more appropriate to judge the number of complaints received against the number of buses on the road, not by the number of passengers on the buses? A number which I'm sure, while still large, is much smaller than 2.4 billion.

I'm not sure its necessarily wrong to set the complaints in the context of the number of passenger journeys. It depends entirely what the purpose of the statistic is.

If its about comparing 'trouble casued by buses' vs 'trouble caused by black cabs', for example, then I think its relevant to consider the ratio of problems caused' vs 'passengers served'.

Though the way the TfL guy says it, its not clear what point he's actually making (proobably nothing, he's just speaking for the sake of saying something).

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andrejserafim [10 posts] 2 years ago
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When a bus in London is behind me, I'm usually expecting good driving as some other comments here suggest.

However if a royal mail truck is behind me I can just as well hit the nearest tree myself before I'm forced off the road by it.

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0ccupier [5 posts] 2 years ago
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Just after Christmas I had a run in with a bus outside Liverpool Street station, on a couple of occasions this bus kept over taking me extremely closely and after the third time I approached the driver and asked what he was doing, and to my horror his response was "trying to kill you".

After which I got off my bike and wrote down his licence plate number and reported the bugger, only to be told that they needed the 4 or 5 digit number printed near the rear of the bus. They did what they could but as expected I got nothing back.

All I can say is that TFL need to realise that we all need to share the road wither bike,car or bus.

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hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 2 years ago
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the vehicle type I most often see blatantly jumping red lights or red light gambling are London buses  2

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kie7077 [936 posts] 2 years ago
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0ccupier wrote:

Just after Christmas I had a run in with a bus outside Liverpool Street station, on a couple of occasions this bus kept over taking me extremely closely and after the third time I approached the driver and asked what he was doing, and to my horror his response was "trying to kill you".

After which I got off my bike and wrote down his licence plate number and reported the bugger, only to be told that they needed the 4 or 5 digit number printed near the rear of the bus. They did what they could but as expected I got nothing back.

All I can say is that TFL need to realise that we all need to share the road wither bike,car or bus.

I don't believe for one moment that they (bus co) don't have a database where they can find the id number from the license plate. Send your complaint to the bus co instead. TFL not taking dangerous driving seriously is very bad form.

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A V Lowe [620 posts] 2 years ago
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Car Working 199 - Stagecoach London - Catford Garage (TL) Still from 0'42" shows red signal clearly reflected in windscreen of bus.

If you have the height you might consider action to 'protect your head' by raising your arm and knocking the mirror back, removing that risk of a "Cracknell' event (caused by failure to be aware of danger approaching from behind, and take avoiding action - and failure to ride with the support car following on a fast and exposed section of road).

Without an external mirror the driver will be forced to stop, at which point you can (as a person reasonably requiring details) invoke s.170.2 of RTA 1988, and s.5.3 of the Conduct of Bus Drivers &c.. Regulations 1990, and require the driver to provide these. Although not a contractual requirement with TfL (and why not?) most main bus operators provide drivers with Section 170 or Bump Cards, which they should hand over in the event of an incident to comply with the law. This has the advantage of no party admitting liability, and no roadside rammie about whose fault it was.

Remember also that by law there should be an externally accessible emergency stop button or pull lever, should the driver be 'reluctant' to remain at the scene..... on a modern bus this locks in the stop condition until re-set.

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comadad [6 posts] 2 years ago
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This is a very powerful piece of video evidence. Would you mind if I sent this to Leon Daniels along with some other video footage links that have been sent to me since I kicked off this campaign earlier this week?

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comadad [6 posts] 2 years ago
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Exactly! Based on Reported Bus Casualty Data that I have campaigned successfully for TfL to publish each quarter on its website, during 2014, 1310 people (passengers, pedestrians, third party drivers, and cyclists) were killed or seriously injured (KSI) from incidents involving TfL buses, 562 of which (and 10 fatalities) resulted directly from Bus Collisions. With TfL Bus Safety's record, I am not surprised by Mike Weston's callous dismissal of the scale of the trauma and often life-changing injuries that result from the frequent incidents the ES article described. But can you imagine a Lufthansa Boss defending the recent Germanwings tragedy by reciting the number of airplanes in Lufthansa's fleet or the total number of passengers or distance safely flown?

When will TfL's Bosses be held to account for the 3.6 KSI incidents per day involving their Buses, nearly half (1.5 per day) of which result from TfL Bus Collisions?

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consciousbadger [41 posts] 2 years ago
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andrejserafim wrote:

When a bus in London is behind me, I'm usually expecting good driving as some other comments here suggest.

However if a royal mail truck is behind me I can just as well hit the nearest tree myself before I'm forced off the road by it.

Ha, totally agree!

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skippy [416 posts] 2 years ago
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Doubt that the " Sub Contractors of TFL " do anything other than toss the complaints into the waste bin ?

Why bother filing these complaints , when there is NO Compulsion on the Subbie to reply , let alone contact the " Offending driver ( do people waste time complaining over NOTHING ? ) ?

As to the website , very well written and full of relevant content :

http://saferoxfordstreet.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/london-buswatch-direct-p...

Also worth the effort to support in the UK :

www.facebook.com/groups/StopKillingCyclists

and in Oz :

www.facebook.com/SafeCyclingAustralia

In the past months SCA has gone from , just Queensland to the point where it is attractibg a World Wide Audience , perhaps due to their contribution to thee 2 year trial of the " Safe Pass Law In Qld "?

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comadad [6 posts] 2 years ago
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Here's my latest correspondence to Leon Daniels "updating" him on #LondonBusWatch. http://saferoxfordstreet.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/londonbuswatch-denial-is...

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comadad [6 posts] 2 years ago
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