Buses - advice needed

d87francis Posts: 136
edited December 2012 in Campaign
Sorry for the ramble but here goes - I'm growing increasingly worried about the driving behaviour of a large percentage of bus drivers in central Oxford.

For those of you who have not visited Oxford we have a very large number of buses and cyclists in the city centre with many narrow roads. Whilst I empathise massively with drivers of large vehicles in central Oxford as I encounter almost daily very poor cycling such as undertaking buses, and because of the road layout and number of cyclists, to overtake safely becomes very hard; I feel that many bus drivers have become complacent about overtaking cyclists with very little space. Let me post a screenshot from google street view as an example:
There is nearly always traffic queuing in the centre lane to turn right and also a traffic island a few hundred yards up so any bus wishing to overtake is forced to stay in the lane, resulting in what most bus drivers seem to do, is overtake very closely but slowly. Whilst I'm not comfortable with this it seems that this is what they have been told to do, as having complained a couple of times about this sort of overtake (once when I was a passenger on a bus to the driver) they don't see anything wrong with it.

I have however, on a few occaisions been overtaken very closely at some considerable speed by buses, to which I have complained, resulting in two separate drivers being sent on a course and another having a disciplinary. Two of these incidents occured on Headington Hill where although there are mandatory solid white line cycle lanes on either side there are lamposts in the lane on one side and if two buses pass each other whilst going past you there is little space.

My worry is that because the bus companies seem alright with drivers overtaking very closely albeit slowly, drivers are becoming complacent and increasing the speed of these overtakes. I'm involved with some local cycling campaign groups and I think that there need to be some infrastructure changes, in particular the removal of cycle lanes where it is too narrow such as in the picture above; as I feel that they also create a false sense of security for the cyclist and vehicle alike, that neither has done any wrong so long as they have stuck to their lane - leading to dangerous undertakes by cyclists and more dangerously close overtakes by cars and buses. On other narrow roads such as Cowley road they have already removed the cycle lanes and painted large bikes in the middle of the road to encourage cyclists to take a primary position and stop themselves being squeezed.

I'm interested in opinions as to how else I can stop this practice of close overtakes? I will continue to complain about the fast ones however, I don't know what I can do to put a stop to the others? Luckily most of the buses are quite modern and have cameras all over them, however, I don't have the time to continually complain to the companies and police as I witness it happen at least once or twice a day. Plus if I were to complain or report it to that level I would soon be ignored as a nutter.

What is your consensus on this practice as presumably they are just being pragmatic in that if they waited until there was space to overtake the buses would never get anywhere on time? However, I would call myself a very experienced cyclist and the close slow overtakes still scare me and many years ago were a strong factor in influencing me not to cycle, as well as other friends who won't ride because they feel it is too dangerous, something I feel is awful.

Sadly the other thing that highly annoys me is that where the roads are wide enough and the council have been good enough to put in mandatory solid white line cycle lanes they are full of parked cars. There is a section along St Clements I have yet to ride and not find a car parked in the cycle lane!


  • priory
    priory Posts: 743
    I would rather be knocked off by a slow bus than a fast one, but I can tell you that being run over by a large vehicle , even a slow one, is quite unpleasant . I am now even more furious when drivers come close .
    Good for you for turning them in .
    But it sounds as if they are victims of the designs of our roads and the expectation that the driver must overtake if any crash could be put down to an honest mistake under difficult circumstances. Honestly I think it is premeditated murder, not a mistake.
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  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    You need to contact the highways authority and get others to do the same. I got some stupid fences removed from a roundabout that had been put there to slow drivers down because they could not see to join the roundabout at speed. What actually happened is they would slam the brakes on at the last moment or risk it. Net net is that as a regular user by cycle and motorbike I was forever having to brake and swerve (not easy on a motorbike) to avoid crashes.