Cambridgeshire cyclist has lucky escape as bike crushed on county's new guided busway

Cyclist was riding on track reserved for buses only and reportedly missed warning horn due to headphones

by Simon_MacMichael   October 5, 2011  

Cambridge Guided Busway (picturecredit Scania (Great Britain) Ltd.jpg

A cyclist in Cambridgeshire has had a very lucky escape on the county’s new guided busway, narrowly avoiding being run over by a bus when he took to it after finding the bridleway alongside it closed for repairs. The cyclist, reported to have been wearing headphones, jumped clear at the last moment, but his bike was crushed under the bus, forcing the temporary closure of the route, reports Cambridge News.

The incident took place on Saturday between Swavesey and St Ives, where resurfacing works are currently being carried out on the bridleway that runs alongside the busway, and caused bus services to be suspended for two and a half hours.

Much of the busway route already has a tarmac maintenance road, doubling as a cycle path, running alongside it.

Opened in August at a reported cost of £180 million - kilometre for kilometre, about a twentieth the cost of Glasgow's M74 Northern Extension unveiled earlier this year - the guided busway boasts the longest such track in the world.

In all, the route covers 40 kilometres linking Huntingdon and St Ives to Cambridge, including 25 kilometres of guided busway used by buses operated by Stagecoach and Go Whippet.

Once the specially adapted buses are on the busway, the driver does not need to steer with his hands, since guidewheels perform the steering function through engaging with the concrete kerb.

The standard speed on the busway is 90kph (56mph), reducing to 50kph (30mph) where it crosses the public highway.

Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach Cambridgeshire, told Cambridge News: “A cyclist thought it was all right to travel down the busway even though buses are up and down there every 10 minutes travelling at 56mph. The driver approached and blew his horn to warn the rider but he had earphones in.

“As the bus got close he jumped off his bike and left the bike on the track and the bus ran over it, which caused a fault with the bus and meant we had to divert passengers back on the other side of the track and travel down the A14.”

Mr Campbell added: “To do it with earphones in so you can’t hear buses approaching is ridiculous.

“You wouldn’t cycle down the centre lane of the M1,” he added, a sentiment most would agree with although apparently not everyone.

According to BBC News, while the busway was undergoing testing in July prior to its coming into operation, a cyclist broke his leg after being struck by a bus between Histon and Oakington.

Although there is signage in place warning that the route is for buses only – something that hasn’t stopped confused motorists from ending up on it, according to this report – Mr Campbell said that it was “not unusual” for cyclists to be found on it and said that drivers had been subject to verbal abuse when asking them to move.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council told Cambridge News: “Recovery operations swung smoothly into operation on Saturday and buses were running again within an hour on the busway.

“As planned buses were able to bypass the section of the busway while the vehicle was recovered and therefore meant services could continue.

“We would remind cyclists to use the cycleway and not the guideway,” he added.

 

20 user comments

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One can't believe that we share the same gene pool although it obvious that this idiot has the shallow end.
When we have the sad news of another cyclist being killed by a lorry in London it does not help the calls for increased safety when incidents like this happen.
Cyclists need protection but we also need to look after ourselves.

posted by SevenHills [140 posts]
5th October 2011 - 13:18

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OK, it is stupid to be riding on the busway, but this is the second incident where the bus failed to stop before hitting something. The driver must have been driving aggressively close.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1300 posts]
5th October 2011 - 13:31

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They don't need to steer, but presumably the brakes still function? Thinking

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7025 posts]
5th October 2011 - 13:39

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I think he must have decided to teach the cyclist a lesson by riding over his bicycle.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1300 posts]
5th October 2011 - 13:42

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1. The cyclist was in the wrong, shouldn't have been there. Careless cycling? Was there a reasonable diversion for the under-repair section of cycle track or had the council left a so-called "attractive nuisance"?

2. The bus driver was in the wrong, shouldn't crash into stuff he's reported to have seen and sounded a horn at. Dangerous driving?

3. Campaigners told the council this would be a frequent occurence, but there are few signs and no countermeasures.

4. It should have been a light railway because there were rails already there.

posted by a.jumper [654 posts]
5th October 2011 - 15:34

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The guy is an idiot, stop making excuses for him and stop blaming the bus driver.

It is bleeding obvious that it is for buses only and the buses have nowhere to go to avoid a collision.

It is moronic behaviour in any case to wear headphones while cycling on a road - you deny yourself the chance to hear what is coming.

It is a big leap of conjecture to assume the bus driver was driving "aggressively" or should have used his brakes. Even more so to suggest he was "punishing" the cyclistm as he will also have all the aggravation, delay, reports to complete, perhaps an enquiry etc. It just doesn't rig true.

Whether the lane should have been a rail track or not, the parallel track is technically a service road for the bus track. It is only incidentally a cycle path. How long can the stretch under repair have been? The local press photo makes clear that there is a grass strip between the maintenance track and the guided track, couldn't he have walked down it?

posted by Paul M [294 posts]
5th October 2011 - 16:00

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Don't get me wrong, the guy *is* an idiot. However, if the driver had concentrated on braking as a first response rather than using his horn, my guess is he would have stopped before he hit the bike. looking at the pic at the top of the story it's hard to see how he wouldn't have a decent line of sight. Like a.jumper says, it's built on a railway bed. it doesn't have tight bends in it.

Quote:
It is a big leap of conjecture to assume the bus driver was driving "aggressively"

that's probably based on experience of bus drivers elsewhere on the nation's transport system, eh. the chore of filling in all those forms doesn't always stop them from driving right up to my back wheel and forcing me into the gutter on normal roads... Thinking

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7025 posts]
5th October 2011 - 16:14

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An observation. Mr Campbell is an employee of the company whos bus crushed the bike. He has a vested interest and is not independant. So why should you accept his description of the incident without printing the cyclists?

Paul W

posted by PaulVWatts [111 posts]
5th October 2011 - 16:32

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PaulVWatts wrote:
An observation. Mr Campbell is an employee of the company whos bus crushed the bike. He has a vested interest and is not independant. So why should you accept his description of the incident without printing the cyclists?

We haven't accepted his description of the incident, we've printed what he reportedly said. We don't have a first hand account from the cyclist, but if we get one we'll print that too.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7025 posts]
5th October 2011 - 16:40

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Quote:
“We would remind cyclists to use the cycleway and not the guideway,”

But as you state:
Quote:
resurfacing works are currently being carried out on the bridleway that runs alongside the busway

So did the cyclist get along the bridleway only to find a section then closed? It's fairly normal for a council to close a cycle route with no suitable alternative or diversion.
Ok, not very wise to cycle with headphones or not keep an eye on what is around you.
But still if the driver had seen him there should be enough time to stop (unless he expected him to get out the way just in time).
What happens if a deer runs across and doesn;t get out the way in time, does this block the bus for hours as well?

posted by thereverent [284 posts]
5th October 2011 - 16:51

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Comment posted on the Cambridge News website:

Tracey wrote:
I was on that Bus and I was fully disgusted in the actions of the bus driver. The cyclist agreed should not have been on the bus way, but I saw no sign saying no cycling? The driver stopped some time before to talk to a passing bus obviously she was warned that there was a cyclist ahead. The driver started blowing her horn some time before she hit him but never slowed down! WHY? Then there was an awful crunching noise and we passengers on the top thought he was dead! It was an awful and distressing incident. The driver never once spoke to us to tell us to leave the bus we were left to our own devices. Whilst she had a ***!! The poor cyclist was in shock and badly shaken. Recovery operations swung smoothly into operation made me laugh out loud. Really? I agree with the previous comment if this was on the road we would be looking at dangerous driving here. If a cyclist gets in my way on my next shopping trip to Cambridge by car I may add should I just run him over and say so what I blew my horn? Just as a foot note what would happen if this Cyclist was Deaf? I feel he would be Dead or seriously injured.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1300 posts]
5th October 2011 - 16:54

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Yes the cyclist is an idiot but surely he has a reasonable right to expect a bus driver not to run over him.

Besides, legally I'm pretty sure the bus driver is in the wrong here. As with any Road Traffic Accident, is it not the case that any driver coming from behind and colliding with something in front is automatically in the wrong?

Pair of idiots if you ask me.

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posted by netclectic [104 posts]
5th October 2011 - 20:08

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Paul M wrote:
The guy is an idiot, stop making excuses for him and stop blaming the bus driver.

It is bleeding obvious that it is for buses only and the buses have nowhere to go to avoid a collision.


Yes, I'll blame the driver. I'll blame both driver and cyclist. They both did wrong. The cyclist shouldn't have been there but that doesn't excuse running them over!

Maybe the buses have nowhere to go (which seems like a design flaw), but they still have brakes. Also compare what happens with pedestrians on the rail tracks. They close the line. Why should the bus tracks not be closed?

posted by a.jumper [654 posts]
5th October 2011 - 21:29

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a.jumper wrote:
Maybe the buses have nowhere to go (which seems like a design flaw), but they still have brakes.

Yes, the same "design flaw" which prevents train drivers swerving to avoid something on the line! The bus runs in a concrete trough with small guide wheels either side at the front which run against the walls of the trough to steer it. If you were cycling along the concrete rails, you'd have to stop and lift your bike out of the trough to get out of the way.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1300 posts]
5th October 2011 - 22:46

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cat1commuter wrote:
a.jumper wrote:
Maybe the buses have nowhere to go (which seems like a design flaw), but they still have brakes.

Yes, the same "design flaw" which prevents train drivers swerving to avoid something on the line! The bus runs in a concrete trough with small guide wheels either side at the front which run against the walls of the trough to steer it.


I meant being able to use the other track or another route. After all, trains stop and following services are diverted if some idiot is spotted on the line: they don't just choose to run them over like this bus driver apparently did!

posted by a.jumper [654 posts]
6th October 2011 - 0:47

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Is it just me who thinks guided busways are a bit odd?

At a maximum speed of 56 MPH

Plain Face The buses have a maximum speed of 56MPH, the driver had a chance to sound his horn 3 times (quite specificly 3 times must have a good memory) BUT couldn't slow down enough to miss the cyclist - the poor guy probably just paniced and fumbled getting off the bike

Plain Face The BBC report that the a spokesman saying 'the same individuals are still doing it' - really, the same individuals, fact or opinion?

Plain Face Still on the BBC report and still accredited to the spokesman 'He added that drivers had stopped to warn people not to use the busway on a number of occasions but that' - i've had a bus follow me inches from my wheel, i've had a bus driver question my parentage, i've been knocked into the gutter by a bus but a bus driver has never 'Warned' me of the danger of cycling.

Plain Face Remember ... if your out cycling in Cambridge and your likley to come accross a bus 'check the companies website and local media' for warnings

Don't have nightmares!

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posted by RhysW [71 posts]
6th October 2011 - 10:51

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If the comment from Tracey on the Cambridge News is correct (the bus driver just blew the horn but didn't slow), I wonder of the bus company will take any action against the driver? Thinking

It seems a trick of buses and taxis to use their horn, but not slow in the epectation that the cyclist/pedestrain/other will get out of the way just in time. They seem to enjoy getting as close as they can without hitting them.
Of course when this goes wrong people get hurt.

posted by thereverent [284 posts]
6th October 2011 - 10:52

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If you take an advanced driving course one of the things that you will be taught is the obvious fact that if someone is in the wrong, you still should do everything you can to avoid an accident.

So when the idiot not paying attention cuts you up in his Mondeo on the motorway it's not a case of you punish him or stick to your course and speed, you get out of the way and maintain safety.

Clearly this is something the bus driver has never heard of and a serious worry about his competency if he can't avoid an accident even when he doesn't have to steer!

Disregard the 56mph speed the buses do along this stretch, I can't imagine it's exactly a twisty nightmare with tons of blind corners so he/she will have had a LOT of time to react!

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posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
6th October 2011 - 11:07

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If you take an advanced driving course one of the things that you will be taught is the obvious fact that if someone is in the wrong, you still should do everything you can to avoid an accident.

I <3 Shimano

I'd like to add something - if you learn to drive your taught to do everything to avoid an accident ... tyres and tarmac ... looking at the road ahead not in front of you.

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posted by RhysW [71 posts]
6th October 2011 - 14:47

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Bus driver facing disciplinary action according to Cambridge News

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1300 posts]
14th October 2011 - 11:59

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