Monday, September 10, 2012

Be Predictable - If You Can!

"Be Predictable!"  Sounds like good advice.  But ever since I first encountered this poster on the back of a bus, I've had a nagging feeling this may not be a very helpful message.

What does it mean to "be predictable" when riding a bike?  Follow the rules of the road, right?  But sometimes the rules are ambiguous, especially when I'm on my bike sharing a lane with a bus (which is actually a whole lot taller than I am, despite what you see in this graphic).

There is one street in this city where I have no problem at all being predictable.  That's Dexter, where bus islands and a buffered bike lane allow me to ride on past when a bus is stopped.

But more often, I'm riding up and down Pine with the Number 11.

There's a bike lane on Pine between Boren and 15th.  When a bus picks up passengers, it pulls in front of me into the bike lane and stops.  I have three legal options.  I can wait by the tail pipe and breathe exhaust;  I can act like a car driver and pass the bus on the left; or I can jump onto the sidewalk and get around the bus that way.  If we're going uphill and the bus is taking awhile to load and unload, I'm most likely to get on the sidewalk.  If we're going downhill and the way is clear, I'll pass on the left.  Sometimes I'll breathe exhaust and wait.

What's "predictable" in this situation?  Should I wear a sign on my helmet in mirror-writing to let the bus driver know my decision-making algorithm?  Or should I just choose one option and follow it consistently?

Until we have more sensible infrastructure like the bike lane and bus islands on Dexter, I'd rather not be scolded for being unpredictable as I breathe in bus exhaust and try to decide how to safely share the road - and the bike lane.

No comments:

Post a Comment