Leaving too little space when overtaking and driving off without looking are biggest concerns

Three in four cyclists in Manchester say that bus drivers pass too close to them when overtaking, while two in three criticise them for pulling away from bus stops without looking.

Those are the key findings from a survey conducted in February by Love Your Bike, a local campaign group affiliated with Friends of the Earth, which asked the city’s cyclists about their experience of sharing the road with buses.

In all, 736 cyclists responded to the survey, which was publicised online, at local Bike Friday rides, through the media and by word of mouth, with 80% of respondents saying that they cycled at least once a week and nearly half stating that they rode their bikes every day.

The survey, which was drawn up in response not only to cyclists’ concerns about buses but also anecdotal evidence suggesting that the danger posed by them is one of the barriers to people taking up cycling in the first place, asked respondents to choose three from a list of ten statements regarding bus drivers’ behaviour that were of most concern to them.

Those statements had been drawn up through focus group sessions at Manchester Friends of the Earth and Love Your Bike meetings, together with contributions from members of email mailing lists.

Other responses attracting high levels of agreement were “overtaking when not necessary (in busy traffic or approaching a bus stop),” chosen by 43% of respondents, and “blocking advanced stop lines / boxes at traffic lights,” which obtained agreement from 30% of those completing the survey.

None of the other statements received support from more than one in five cyclists, suggesting broad consensus among respondents for the top four concerns, although Love Your Bike did say that patterns had been observed linking specific concerns with frequency of cycling, and these are highlighted in the full report, which can be found here.

Love Your Bike said that while collision data from Greater Manchester Police showed that “there are relatively few incidents between bus and cycles that result in fatalities or serious injuries… it is clear from the results of our survey that a range bus driver behaviours are perceived by many respondents to make cycling on the roads in Greater Manchester less safe than it should be.”

Dr Graeme Sherriff, Transport Co-ordinator at Manchester Friends of the Earth, was quoted by Rochdale Online as saying: “Cycling more often is a great way to build healthy exercise into daily routine. But it is understandable that there is some concern about safety on the roads. This survey has identified some positive actions that can be taken to make cycling a more attractive option. Bus companies and Local Authorities need to work together to address these issues.”

The other issues raised in the survey, together with the percentage agreeing with each, were “driving in cycle lanes” (17%), “opening the doors and letting people off when bus is not at bus stop” (16%), “brake suddenly without warning” (11%), “driving too fast” (11%), “driving through red lights” (7%), “telling you that you should not be in road and should be on the cycle lane” (5%) and “other” (6%).


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.


John_the_Monkey [438 posts] 7 years ago

“telling you that you should not be in road and should be on the cycle lane” (5%)

There's a particular driver for "Magic Bus" who does this by overtaking at about a hands width away.

I answered the survey - I think on the whole, Manchester's bus drivers could teach Manchester's car drivers a thing or two - the best of the former are professional drivers in the true sense of the phrase. Unfortunately those that are impatient, inattentive &c have a huge, terrifying vehicle in which to be so.

mrpuncture [19 posts] 7 years ago

Definitely agree with the findings of the survey, the route I cycle to work on an almost daily basis is in theory pretty cycle friendly. Nearly every set of lights has an advanced stop box for bikes, and there are loads of sections of roads with cycle lanes. On the way to work (setting off about 6:45, arriving half hour later) it's a fast and almost pleasant experience.

On the way home (circa 4/4:30), it's horrendous, and the main source of pain is the buses. I'd slightly disagree with the survey, the buses do indicate, but normally about 10/15 seconds after they've started to pull out!
They nearly always stop in the advanced stop box, and will overtake you just before lights, then move in to the curb/cycle lane as soon as possible so you can't go down the inside of them....presumably because they don't want to overtake you again??

For me, the worse driver on the daily commute is the bus, but in a way they are no longer as dangerous to me as the elderly micra driver because you know what to expect from them!

Rant over, for now...

John_the_Monkey [438 posts] 7 years ago

Are you on Oxford Road, mrp?

Times seem about right for the traffic conditions described  3

Personally I treat ASLs on here as though they're not there (like most drivers) & wait in the traffic, it's usually safer. On Oxford Road itself, I always use the cycle lanes (even that bizarre one that takes you across the road into Whitworth Park) because too many of the bus drivers are under the impression that they can squash you if you don't (I had an interesting conversation with a Finglands employee about that).

RuthF28 [101 posts] 7 years ago

Shared bus/bike lane. No other comment needed.