Whilst the driver has ultimate responsibility for how the vehicle is driven at that time, the company that runs the vehicle and employs the driver must also take some responsibility. Any responsible company should have safety of other road users as a top priority.
With the above in mind I am personally appalled by the response of a local bus company to an incident I posted on YouTube recently. Here is the incident.
Let me clear up a few misunderstandings about the above incident before I move on.
- I am not complaining about the overtake itself. The driver give me enough lateral space.
- The absolute...ABSOLUTE safe stopping time behind any vehicle is 2 seconds.
- My rear camera has a field of view of 170 degrees. This makes things in the centre of the image look further away than they are.
- Using marks on the road etc I calculated that the bus was (after approaching me) at best 0.5s behind me.
- Just before he overtook me he moved up to 0.2s behind me (1.8m)
- I was travelling at about 20mph here (measured by GPS).
If you happen to have a tape measure, why not measure 1.8m from a wall. Stand there and look back at the wall. Now imaging that the wall is not a wall, but a bus that is accelerating towards you.....
So I wrote the following e-mail to the company:
Unfortunately I am having to write to you with a complaint about the driving standards of one of your drivers.
I am a cyclist who regularly commutes from Torrance to my work at the Southern General Hospital. As part of my journey home I sometimes cycle along Balmore Road between the Auchenhowie roundabout and Torrance itself. It's not my favourite road to cycle on, and I do try and avoid it when I can (taking the back roads), but I do usually use it a couple of times a week. During those commutes I often interact with your 47A (arrives Torrance at 18:17).
Most of the time I have no issues with the driving of that particular bus. However, I have noticed on occasion when the bus has been stuck behind me for a short while, due to oncoming traffic, that it comes too close to my rear. I have on a couple of occasions in the past indicated this to the driver (with a pushing back hand signal).
Unfortunately this Tuesday evening (22/10/13) the driving fell way below the standard that is acceptable.
Due to issues I have faced on the roads in the past I video my commute on two cameras, one on my helmet and one on my bike facing the rear. I post these videos on Youtube for educational purposes and to demonstrate to others what it can be like cycling on Glasgow's roads. I have placed the video pf the incident in question on my site and you can watch it here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-FUDRzdolY). It should be remembered as the camera has a wide angled lens it looks further away than it is. That is why, using references form the road I calculated the gap.
As you may be able to tell from the video I felt very intimidated by the driving in this video. The driver, at best was about 0.5 seconds behind me and at worst 0.2 seconds. During the episode I signalled to the driver that I felt he was too close, and yet he continued to remain close to my back wheel. In fact as he overtook me it felt as though he drove the bus at me to make a point. Of course, I cannot prove this. Nonetheless, driving of that nature was at the very least totally unnecessary and very careless.
I would be very pleased if you could look into this incident and at the very least remind the driver that driving of that standard is not acceptable.
I am also a co-organiser of Pedal on Parliament (www.pedalonparliament.org), an organisation pushing for safer roads for cyclists. In that regard I would be very interested to find out what driver training that you provide you drivers, especially in relation to cyclist interaction. In general bus drivers are excellent. The vast majority of the bus drivers I have interacted with have driven very safely. However, it only takes one driver driving like this to cause a serious accident.
I look forward to your reply.
Two weeks past and I did not receive a reply. Therefore, I wrote again.
It has now been over 2 weeks since I wrote to you with regards to the driving standards of one of you drivers. I have not had anything back from you with regards to this. I would have at the very least expected an acknowledgement. Has this incident been investigated at all?
The next day I received this reply. This reply is copied exactly as it was sent to me.
Good morning David
sorry its been so long getting back to you
however i have viewed the tape attached to your complaint i do not see what our driver has done wrong
looks like he has stayed behind you till the road ahead was clear before making his manouvre to pass you safelyRegardsTonyHenderson Travel Operations
visit our website : www.htbuses.com
I decided to ignore the terrible grammar (yes I know mine isn't great, but I am not writing on behalf of a company in relation to a complaint), the spelling mistakes and the lack of punctuation. This was my reply.
Thank you for your reply.
Can I just confirm this, you do not think that driving 0.5 seconds behind me is wrong? You also do not think that driving to within 0.2 seconds of my back wheel before executing the overtake manoeuvre is wrong?
My reply was sent about a week ago and I have not been sent a reply. I suspect I am not going to get one (though this blog may elicit a response). It would have been very easy for the company to have sent me a standard response to this incident.
We are sorry to hear what happened to you.....we will investigate this further and deal with the driver as per our standard procedures.... due to confidentiality issues we cannot disclose the nature of any action taken.....
They chose instead to provide us all with an example of the complete lack of professionalism within the company, and an insight into how seriously they take the safety of other road users.
Well done Henderson Travel. Well done.