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Call for action as TfL stats reveal buses pose as big a danger to cyclists as lorries

Green Party in London pushes for safer buses and examination of dangerous bus routes

Buses are just as dangerous for cyclists in London as lorries - but they do not kill as often.

Lorries cause far more fatalities, but some years, buses are causing more major injuries to cyclists per kilometer cycled, according to figures released by the Mayor of London.

Darren Johnson, a London Assembly Green Party Member, told “It’s right that we urgently act to stop the tragedy of deaths from HGV collisions, but the scale of cycling and pedestrian casualties from bus collisions has been a neglected problem for too long.

"London relies on its buses and there are simple and easy steps that Transport for London could take to make them safer, starting by writing safety requirements into the bus company contracts.

"The Mayor should also commission a safety study which looks at where there are particular bus routes, or stretches of road that need to be made safer.”

TfL figures suggest that bus services run over half a billion kilometers per year, whilst HGVs cover over a billion kilometers per year.

In 2009 lorries accounted for more KSIs than buses per kilometre, but in 2010, 2011 and 2012 buses were linked to more deaths and major injuries per kilometre.

In 2009 HGVs were connected to one KSI per 41.6m km, while buses were involved in 1 KSI per 55.5m km.

By 2012 HGVs were connected to 1 KSI per 76.9m  km while buses were involved in 
1 KSI per 26.3m km

In 2009 there were 8 cycling and pedestrian fatalities connected to lorries, and only one connected to a bus collision. By 2012 there were 4 fatalities involving a lorry and none with a bus involved.

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A V Lowe | 10 years ago

Buses are even more dangerous for pedestrians and you might want to look at @comadad blog Tom was almost killed by an Arriva bus (he is not exactly happy with Arriva's performance either).

he basic fact is, as we uncovered nearly 20 years ago when researching the option of putting bike racks on the front of buses, that buses have the worst rates for hitting people of any class of vehicle on the roads.

Before you get stupid knee jerk rants about this stop and think about it. The average private car sits parked and idle for 96% of the time, but a typical bus is on the road every day for around 18 hours - giving it 10 times the exposure to the potential of hitting something. Then (unlike the US) most UK bus routes go where there are people who will use the bus to get to and from those places, ramping up the risk of hitting someone even further, and to cap this off we actually are encouraged to walk up to the bus ... in order to use it.

Buses and cyclists are another area where the way both operate can create a greater hazard. Both average the same speeds through an urban area BUT the bus does this with stops and starting, whilst the cyclist moves continuously - the result is known as leapfrogging, and it is easily sorted by both bus drivers and cyclists behaving appropriately (not like an idiot woman on a Bike Friday with Brixton Cycles musette did on night on London Bridge - forcing a bus driver to overtake her on the offside in traffic by cutting across right in front of the bus, rather than simply staying in the middle lane and dropping back in as the bus driver accelerated away from the stop).

Buses are large and difficult to manoeuvre through busy streets, cycles are small and nimble, therefore it make sense to move out of the bus lane when a bus comes up behind you and let the driver pass without having to weave around you on your bike. You get the massive safety advantages that a) you can decide when to pull in behind the bus rather than risk being cut-up because the drive cannot accurately guess when the rear end has cleared you and the bike every time and b) you will be on the right hand side of the bus so that the driver of the bus behind (also on the right side of their bus) will see you much earlier than if you are hidden on the left side of the bus that is overtaking you.

The second detail was a clear safety message which was identified nearly 10 years ago but has been consistently ignored in all those victim blaming poster campaigns. It uses safety equipment with several million years of testing and development that has kept people safe in hostile environments, as well as everyday life. Notable, at the time of the work that identified the campaign was that this applied especially to women, who also feature disportionately in the crashes where the failure to use this safety measure is a causal factor. By looking back at the bus driver you make eye contact and begin a negotiation process on the next move both of you want to make. If there are passengers on the front platform getting ready to get off, and a bus stop ahead with passengers waiting, than it makes a lot of sense to pull the bike over to the right and agree with the bus driver that they roll up to the bus stop on your left hand side. That keep you in control of the situation and avoids having the bus driver cut in on your to get to the bus stop. It also mitigates the leapfrogging process, and may mean that you are sufficiently far ahead by the next bus stop that the same situation doesn't arise again.

darrenleroy | 10 years ago

Bus drivers along the Uxbridge Road through Ealing up to Shepherd's Bush seem to enjoy the sport of barreling up as fast as possible behind cyclists in a bid to scare them off the road. It happens to me weekly.

kie7077 | 10 years ago

Buses are just as dangerous for cyclists in London as lorries - but they do not kill as often.

That'd be because they have mirrors that actually work. Why HGVs don't have to have this, particularly construction vehicles is beyond me.

Initialised | 10 years ago

Let's get a law passed that means all vehicles over 2T and all vehicles used commercially must have collision mitigation and avoidance technology fitted and functional to stay on the road after 2015.

The technology to make our roads safer for everyone exists, let's get it fitted to the fleet.

Airzound | 10 years ago

I don't cycle in London, anymore, but the bus drivers in Cambridge, Stagecoach/Whippet, are aggressive c**ts, tailgating really close, drinking coffee as they try to steer, dialling and driving, nearly squashing peds as they drive through the centre. Dangerous twats.

unclebadger | 10 years ago

I cycle to and from work five days a week in London.

I think the bus drivers are generally a bloody menace. Worst of all tailgating you in the bus/cycle lanes.

I always think what would happen if you fell off at that point, they'd never be able to stop (Shudders!)

kie7077 replied to unclebadger | 10 years ago

I had an idiot bus driver aggressively tailgate me in a bus lane so as per highway code I slowed down (very gradually otherwise I would have been hit). The idiot tailgated me down to 1-foot distance and then panicked, slammed on the brakes and had to go check the passengers were ok, no doubt he blamed me for his bad driving.

But that's not the norm, in general I've found London's bus drivers to be pretty good, but judging by the figures they're getting worse / there are always a few bad eggs.

edit:hate typos

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