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Bus Operator Training


  • Transit agencies should, at a minimum, include the following critical elements on bike-bus interaction in initial and ongoing operator training:
    • A minimum passing distance of 3 feet at low speed with increasing separation at higher speeds
    • Assessing the distance ahead needed to safely pass a person riding a bicycle or slowing down to pull into a stop or make a turn behind the bicycle
    • Understanding why people ride bicycles to the left of bike lanes, including avoiding the door zone and gutter pan
    • Allowing time and space to anticipate unpredictable or erratic riding
    • Making visual contact with riders to communicate intent
    • Understanding leapfrogging behavior and agency expectations and strategies for safely managing these encounters
  • Transit agencies should reinforce with operators, during ongoing and refresher training, policies emphasizing the primacy of safety over schedule concerns when encountering people riding bicycles, focusing on strategies to manage delay within the operator’s control
  • Transit agencies should provide opportunities for operators to engage in practical bicycle riding exercises, which could be provided in training for new operators and as periodic refresher training group exercises:
    • Personal experience on a bicycle will help operators better understand the behavior of riders, improve their ability to anticipate behavior of people riding, and assess safe passing distances more accurately
    • In addition to informing bus operators of the perspective of bicycle riding around buses, this training should cover common bicycle safety education topics such as avoiding the door zone, lane positioning, making turns, and other elements of bicycling in traffic
    • Understanding the road experience and decision-making factors for people riding bicycles will help bus operators better anticipate their actions and share the road more safely and comfortably
    • When the provision of on-bike experience in controlled circumstances is infeasible, provide bicyclist-perspective video covering the same material and provide peer discussions where operators of all experience levels are able to share perspectives on safe driving near bike riders
  • Transit agencies should provide regular updates on new road designs and expectations for safe maneuvering and interaction with other road users (especially with people riding bicycles) as part of established mechanisms for informing operators about route changes, and as part of refresher or ongoing training:
    • Agencies can provide opportunities for operators to share knowledge and best practices about safe operation around people on bicycles and on new infrastructure