Tuesday 19 July 2011

Meeting with First Bus

You may remember I had this incident some time ago with a First Bus and I wrote this letter of complaint.

I never did receive a letter of response. Why? Because instead of writing a letter to me (the easy option) they have asked to meet me!

So this Friday I am off to the First Bus training facility in Livingstone to have a chat with the MD of First South East and Central Scotland, and their training manager.

I'll be chatting to this chap.

What will the meeting consist of? I'm not sure, but I'm hopeful that it will go further than just discussing the merits of this particular complaint. I have had some campaigning success with First Glasgow in the past. The Give Cyclists Room campaign, whilst admirable, was probably a little simplistic.

So what do you think as a cyclist, I should be discussing with those in power at a large bus company? What are the, 'must cover topics'?

I'm hoping that we can work together to make the roads a safer and more pleasant place, not just for cyclists and bus drivers, but for all road users. We have to start somewhere.....


  1. Mags,
    Apologies in advance for any egg sucking lessons...
    Obviously adopt a non confrontational approach - perhaps work out what bikes can do for the bus drivers and vice versa. Make a win-win out of the meeting :)
    you should ask about driver training/retraining - find out what is or isn't addressed with respect to Bikes in particular but what skills are taught and expected in general..
    Offer to show them what a cyclists problems are with big vehicles
    Ask if you can see what a bus driver's eye view of a bike might be (or not).
    Address the apparent unreliability of the on bus CCTV cameras (anecdotal evidence on CC and the CTC fora seem to indicate a curious degree of conveniently faulty cameras)

    Well there are a few starters for 10 anyway


  2. Hi

    Try to get bus ( all drivers ) level 1,2, and 3 cycle training. I doubt you could succeed, but worth a try.


  3. Can you DM or e-mail or call - I'm in touch with other parts of First and would like to develop the eye contact detail - look back at the driver and agree who is going where - for example as you approach bus stop - they indicate pulling in so you pull out to let bus pull in alongside. Removes the frustration of having to slow right down to avoid cutting you up. Work on protocol for what to do if no eye contact - slow down sound warning etc (both bus and bike)

    Note that all First bus ops in the area use 'traffic signal' driving monitor system - green for low fuel consumption, no severe braking etc, staff aim to keep scoring on greens.

    Eye contact is universal safety message for all road users so this gets sent to pedestrians and drivers - NB Buses run into pedestrians more often on a per vehicle basis than any other class of traffic.

    Previous discussion with First Camelon Depot on buses and 'too narrow' bike lanes.

    Most buses no have 8/16 CCTV circuits on 7/14 day overwrite to HD - so a rapid call to depot can secure the images.

    With modern e-mail/phone could they add contact phone/e-mail to statutory lettering on LH side of bus in 1" letters

    Possible interesting news - been discussing how to get bikes to Borders with buses, especially the 'dead' workings for commuter 'extras' that I think run back to Galashiels after the morning trip and back for the evening one - empty.

  4. I think in London they've had events where cyclists have been invited to sit in the cabs of lorries (to see how big the blind spots are) while council lorry drivers have been given cycling training. Buses have fewer blind spots but they're pretty similar. Also I think there are mirrors that can be fitted that reduce blind spots - might be worth finding out about those?

  5. Hi

    Hopefully they'll share your concerns in regards to the quality of that cycle lane. The council may now be persuaded into taking some remedial action, even if that means the removal of the cycle lane. The removal of the lane would probably encourage all road users to watch the road fully rather than simply following "their lines" on the road.
    Take along a copy of Cyclecraft and suggest their instructors use this as another training tool. Ask for a roll reversal and let them get on your bike whilst you drive the bus, I'm sure they'll appreciate the full effect of being passed by such a vehicle at close quarters. I think in general most professional drivers "do the right thing" however increased knowledge can only help. Hope you have a constructive meeting and look forward to seeing what comes out of the meeting.

  6. In addition to the safety stuff, it'd also be interesting to raise the emissions out of their buses. I don't know if it's a maintenance thing, but First Buses spew out noticeably more black particulates than, e.g., Arriva buses (even comparing older Arrivas to much newer First buses). Based on my anecdotal evidence at least of regularly having to follow them.

  7. Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the comments.

    Ben, yes I was intending on covering most of those points, but it is good to have someone else confirm what I was thinking! Apparently they have a bus simulator there. I'd love to try that!


    That certainly would be a good idea. Mind you, cost etc might prohibit it. Still, no point in thinking small.... :-)

    Dave H,

    Yes indeed eye contact is important. Mind you, I thought I had eye contact in my oil tanker incident, so it can't always be relied on! I will actually be interested in their opinion of the cycle lane in the video. If they agree it is poor it will help my case with council to do something. I will certainly ask about bikes on buses.


    Yes this is a good idea, and something I will try to encourage. In fact it could work in with my Celebration Station ideas....


    You are spot on about the lane. That is part of my plan! Good idea to take along cyclecraft!


    I haven't ben paying attention to this. Could be an issue. Mind you this is not Glasgow First, so only a few buses come our way from this section of First. Still I'll try to remember to mention it.

    Thanks guys. All helpful! :-)

  8. They should have a chat with Lothian Buses and see what their cycle-awareness training involves, because their drivers are excellent around cyclists (in my expeience over the last 5 years of cycling on the roads in Edinburgh).