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Body responsible for London's bus network insists number of collisions each year is in decline...

Transport for London has defended its record on road safety after its own figures revealed that buses in the capital are involved in an average of two incidents per day with cyclists or pedestrians.

The London Evening Standard says that according to TfL figures quoted by Conservative members of the London Assembly, during the past six years there have been a total of 145,533 ‘accidents’ involving buses.

It's not clear whether the incidents are confined to physical collisions, or include those for example where the driver has had to hit the brakes and log a report without the vehicle actually striking the vulnerable road user involved.

Of those 'accidents,' 3,591 involved pedestrians and 1,219 cyclists, equivalent to three incidents every two days relating to those on foot, and one every other day for bike riders – combined, that’s a total of 15 each week.

Conservative Assembly Member Roger Evans commented: “We need reassurances on how [the police] can work with TfL to ensure their drivers are operating safely.”

In response, Mike Weston, Operations Director of London Buses at TfL, maintained that there had been an improvement in the network’s record when it came to bus safety.

“These figures need to be taken in the context of the huge scale of London’s bus network,” he insisted, “8,500 buses and six million journeys a day.

“The proportion of bus collisions is actually very small and falling. Buses were involved with just five per cent of the most serious collisions on London’s roads over the last few years.

He added: “There is no room for complacency, and the Mayor and Transport for London are working with pedestrian, cycling and safety stake holders to develop both a pedestrian safety action plan and a huge range of initiatives to further improve cycle safety.”

According to TfL, there has been a 40 per cent decline in the number of incidents involving pedestrians and a fall of 50 per cent in those with cyclists from 2007/08 and 2011/12, although the Standard says, albeit without elaboration, that “how they calculate the figures partly explained the fall.”

Buses have been involved in the death of several cyclists in London in recent years, including Dan Harris, killed last August by a shuttle bus ferrying media between Olympic venues, Jayne Helliwell, crushed by a bus on Oxford Street in April 2010, and Dorothy Elder, dragged under a bus in Bloomsbury in November 2009.

However, lorries, and construction vehicles in particular, are regarded as presenting the greatest risk to cyclists on the city’s streets – according to London Cycling Campaign, they make up 5 per cent of the capital’s traffic, but are responsible for around 50 per cent of cyclist fatalities.

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.

15 comments

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Carvers [36 posts] 3 years ago
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The 'near-miss' stats wouldn't make for good reading. Excessive bus speeds as well as encroachment into cycle lanes and running red lights are a daily occurence on my commute in London.

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anyuser [68 posts] 3 years ago
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Also TfL just ignore any complaints about bad bus driving in my experience.

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racyrich [253 posts] 3 years ago
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There are a bloody lot more buses than construction lorries in London. I bet every cyclist has a moment with a bus every single day.

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mulgabill [10 posts] 3 years ago
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anyuser wrote:

Also TfL just ignore any complaints about bad bus driving in my experience.

Agree that this falls on deaf ears, they don't even bother to acknowledge the fault. The standard London Bus "near miss" for me is being overtaken by a bus when travelling at 25mph only to have it pull into the upcoming stop.

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jasecd [394 posts] 3 years ago
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Sounds like I'm in the minority here but I have generally had pretty good experiences with buses - I ride in London most days but I've only had a few incidents with them and I feel the drivers on the whole are quite attentive.

I find black cabs to be a far bigger menace due to their drivers attitude towards cyclists.

I'd be really interested to know how far the official training on how to safely drive around cyclists goes with both bus and taxi drivers.

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sm [382 posts] 3 years ago
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Buses are fine, long way behind van drivers and even worse, mini cab drivers. Black cabs are fine on the whole but for a few aggressive drivers. The same could be said of cyclists I guess. Althoug black cabs doing u turns and pulling over to pick up a fare without checking their mirrors...

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Nzlucas [123 posts] 3 years ago
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You obviously haven't cycled through Brixton, something about that stretch turns even the most normal bus driver into a cyclist hating zealot!

All in all, I have to agree that red buses are the least of our worries.

I did have an experience today with a AA van which left me with hope about drivers though. They were patient, didn't sound annoyed behind me (ie low gear reving engine etc) and only passed me when there was clear space and let me heaps of room even though he passed me once and i caught back up and past him at some lights. All this going passed Clapham Common which has some nasty holes in the road at the mo. Unfortunately I forget the number plate before i could jot it down so i could write in. Maybe we as cyclists need to take the time to start to reward good driving? I would even go as far as saying maybe TFL need a feed back website where we could log in and provide positive feedback on buse's?

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jasecd [394 posts] 3 years ago
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It's a nice sentiment but I'm not sure we need to be praising people for simply obeying the rules of the road and driving with courtesy. I think your idea is actually quite sad in the sense that it shows how far from the norm this kind of behaviour is.

What is needed and has been needed for years is clear public information aimed at drivers explaining how to drive around cyclists. Many cyclists could benefit from advice as well but it's sorely lacking and a real failing of government in my eyes.

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jollygoodvelo [1419 posts] 3 years ago
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racyrich wrote:

There are a bloody lot more buses than construction lorries in London. I bet every cyclist has a moment with a bus every single day.

I agree.

It is only a minority of drivers, for sure (unlike a certain black Ford Galaxy fleet who appear to be out to get you), but every single day I commute into central London I am either cut up, squeezed or pulled out on by a bus.

None of them seem to know or care where the left-hand side of their vehicle is...

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bikepixi [12 posts] 3 years ago
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My husband was deliberately knocked off his bike by a bus driver who then proceeded to deliberately drive over the bike whilst it was on the floor. To drive over the bike also meant that the diver had to drive into a group of about 10 pedestrians and other cylists that had stopped to help and were in front of the bus.

I have also seen a bus driver run into a woman at a bus stop breaking her neck as he was so busy rubber necking an accident on the opposite side of the road he didn't realise what was going on.

I have a very low opinion of bus drivers, they are under-educated as to how to do their job, under-educated as to what the Uk highway code allows and under-educated as to how to manage their anger in stressfull conditions.

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thereverent [406 posts] 3 years ago
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The figures aren't that surprising.
Some bus drivers seem to enjoy seeing how close they can get to hitting pedestrians crossing the road or how close they can tailgate cyclists.

The very worst are empty, out of service buses being driven back to the depot. I'm guessing thats because the faster they get there the faster the bus driver can clock off. I've had several near misses with these on my bike and have been tailgated in a car by an out of service bus with full beam lights on (as he couldn't overtake me).

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Hereward [1 post] 2 years ago
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I am quite surprised at some of the sheer ignorance of some of the posts here regarding bus drivers and LGV drivers. One only has to ask which mode of transport is noted for jumping red lights? That is the cyclist and many have been stopped by the police on their recent road safety campaign. Cyclists also are in the nasty habit of using the wrong side of the road in order to get ahead of standing traffic at junctions or passing on the inside of moving vehicles, some of which are indicating left. Cyclist will go for a gap regardless of whether they can make it or not and often it is the driver who has to brake in order to avoid an accident. Drivers must pass a test to a high standard in Britain and in the case of bus drivers, they are monitored by mystery passengers who are assessing them while drive, often these anonymous passengers are Ministry of Transport inspectors. Recent surveys did reveal that roughly one fifth of drivers were driving dangerously but the vast majority were driving to standard with over a quarter achieving excellent results and more than half achieving good grades with only minor faults. LGV drivers are high up in their cabs and it is not so for them to see cyclists coming into their inside lane and buses are always pulling left into bus stops every few hundred yards which is the obvious point of their being there. Remember, when you are behind one of these large vehicles, the driver cannot see you and although he or she may check their mirrors, they may miss you at a glance when you come around from the back of them.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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Hereward wrote:

I am quite surprised at some of the sheer ignorance of some of the posts here regarding bus drivers and LGV drivers. One only has to ask which mode of transport is noted for jumping red lights? That is the cyclist and many have been stopped by the police on their recent road safety campaign. Cyclists also are in the nasty habit of using the wrong side of the road in order to get ahead of standing traffic at junctions or passing on the inside of moving vehicles, some of which are indicating left. Cyclist will go for a gap regardless of whether they can make it or not and often it is the driver who has to brake in order to avoid an accident. Drivers must pass a test to a high standard in Britain and in the case of bus drivers, they are monitored by mystery passengers who are assessing them while drive, often these anonymous passengers are Ministry of Transport inspectors. Recent surveys did reveal that roughly one fifth of drivers were driving dangerously but the vast majority were driving to standard with over a quarter achieving excellent results and more than half achieving good grades with only minor faults. LGV drivers are high up in their cabs and it is not so for them to see cyclists coming into their inside lane and buses are always pulling left into bus stops every few hundred yards which is the obvious point of their being there. Remember, when you are behind one of these large vehicles, the driver cannot see you and although he or she may check their mirrors, they may miss you at a glance when you come around from the back of them.

What a stunning load of damp knickered nonsense that is. I can only assume that it is Keith Peat with yet another alias, otherwise the fuckwits are breeding.

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Goldfever4 [221 posts] 2 years ago
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Hereward wrote:

I am quite surprised at some of the sheer ignorance of some of the posts here regarding bus drivers and LGV drivers. One only has to ask which mode of transport is noted for jumping red lights? That is the cyclist and many have been stopped by the police on their recent road safety campaign. Cyclists also are in the nasty habit of using the wrong side of the road in order to get ahead of standing traffic at junctions or passing on the inside of moving vehicles, some of which are indicating left. Cyclist will go for a gap regardless of whether they can make it or not and often it is the driver who has to brake in order to avoid an accident. Drivers must pass a test to a high standard in Britain and in the case of bus drivers, they are monitored by mystery passengers who are assessing them while drive, often these anonymous passengers are Ministry of Transport inspectors. Recent surveys did reveal that roughly one fifth of drivers were driving dangerously but the vast majority were driving to standard with over a quarter achieving excellent results and more than half achieving good grades with only minor faults. LGV drivers are high up in their cabs and it is not so for them to see cyclists coming into their inside lane and buses are always pulling left into bus stops every few hundred yards which is the obvious point of their being there. Remember, when you are behind one of these large vehicles, the driver cannot see you and although he or she may check their mirrors, they may miss you at a glance when you come around from the back of them.

Since when is 20% of bus drivers 'driving dangerously' an acceptable or defendable statistic for vehicles that regularly squash vulnerable road users?

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jacknorell [966 posts] 2 years ago
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Hereward wrote:

I am quite surprised at some of the sheer ignorance of some of the posts here regarding bus drivers and LGV drivers. One only has to ask which mode of transport is noted for jumping red lights? That is the cyclist and many have been stopped by the police on their recent road safety campaign. Cyclists also are in the nasty habit of using the wrong side of the road in order to get ahead of standing traffic at junctions or passing on the inside of moving vehicles, some of which are indicating left. Cyclist will go for a gap regardless of whether they can make it or not and often it is the driver who has to brake in order to avoid an accident. Drivers must pass a test to a high standard in Britain and in the case of bus drivers, they are monitored by mystery passengers who are assessing them while drive, often these anonymous passengers are Ministry of Transport inspectors. Recent surveys did reveal that roughly one fifth of drivers were driving dangerously but the vast majority were driving to standard with over a quarter achieving excellent results and more than half achieving good grades with only minor faults. LGV drivers are high up in their cabs and it is not so for them to see cyclists coming into their inside lane and buses are always pulling left into bus stops every few hundred yards which is the obvious point of their being there. Remember, when you are behind one of these large vehicles, the driver cannot see you and although he or she may check their mirrors, they may miss you at a glance when you come around from the back of them.

Well hello Mr Bus Driver!

How about you get on a bike for a bit and learn for yourself. The driving test is a joke, BTW, it's meant to pass people.

And there's no Ministry of Transport, me thinks you've confused it with Department for Transport, the DfT.