Firstly let’s get something straight – buses are not environmentally friendly. Mostly they charge around spitting out diesel fumes (at a rate of what I can only guess is 4 miles to the gallon) with a one little old lady on board (who is probably dead) and a naughty schoolboy playing truant from school. The average car has more passengers and a much better MPG. This is before we even start to try and calculate the wasted fuel of cars stuck in traffic behind the bus as it waits at the bus stop for the dead little old lady to get off.
Secondly we need to get our terminology right here – they are not buses – we shall call them MT’s (mobile toilets) – as certainly whenever I have had the displeasure of boarding one the smell is somewhat akin to the interior of a portaloo that has accidentally been spun round 360 degrees recently.
But the horror that is the MT pales into insignificance when compared to the “driver”. I use the “” somewhat incorrectly, as it is the only way that someone with my limited writing ability, can describe something that is supposed to be one thing but in reality is the exact opposite. Who are these people, where do they find them? As previously mentioned, I have been at some point been at the mercy of these “”. What is it with them they come up to a bus stop and brake so hard that if you are standing you end up parallel to the floor, like a person on the Titanic holding onto a flag pole as the ship points it bow at the ocean seabed in its last seconds. I used to wonder why they had to brake so hard – was the appearance of the bus stop a surprise? Did someone sneak out in the middle of the night and move the bus stops around and the “” was stunned by its sudden appearance?
The mystery of why buses brake so violently was answered when I started to ride a bike. Up until this time I had been blissfully unaware of the war raging on our streets between buses and bikes.
The bus represents the dinosaur – large, heavy, bulky and with a very small brain controlling it. The bike rider agile, nimble, intelligent (generally) and responsive to changes, I like to feel resembles the mammal, and we all know who won in the end but I am sad to say that I cannot foresee a meteor hitting the earth any time soon the can knock out the electrics of only buses. Buses like to race bikes, it is the only other vehicle that they stand even the slimmest chance of overtaking, this gives the “” with the dinosaur brain a feeling of superiority, I can’t imagine the average bus “” finishes his shift and back at the garage jumps down from his bus and slip in behind the wheel of Ferrari or Bentley, more than likely he has to get on another bus to get home – once again being the overtakee. This need to at least overtake a bike means the “” hates it when he has to stop to let passengers off – whilst he waits for the dead little old lady to do a Lazarus and get off, the bicycle slips by and is back in the lead, that swelling in the chest he felt at being an over taker has now been eroded and all he has left to look forward to is a new flavour of pot noodle that night.
So the bus driver is going to use every dangerous tactic in the book to make sure that no bikes overtake him or even more importantly re overtake him once he has overtaken you. This is a handy point for me to add some extra advice – the reality is that through reasonable traffic or going downhill and maybe on the flat you can take a bus or at least equal it’s speed, but going uphill that bus is going to take you. Despite the bus engine being a very crude version of the wonderful thing called the internal combustion engine, it is still odds on that he is going to own you on a slope. Therefore, if racing a bus and you know a hill is coming: stop and pretend to be having a drink of water – don’t do this on the hill or the driver will think you were too tired to make it up and you needed a break, this will only ensure that his ego is inflated. If you take the drink on the flat then you can just pretend you are bored with beating him in this race and you are now taking time out to smell the roses (until his toxic camper van splutters past you).
So what is this war all about? I feel the roots of it lie in lane envy. The bus has its bus lane – how they love to see the 5,000 cars waiting in one lane whilst the bus that turns up every 15 – 20 minutes, has twice the width lane all to itself. But – and here is the root of the problem – bikes having their own lanes too, and even buses aren’t allowed in them (not that most buses heed this law and for certain there are no cameras enforcing the rule). I am certain this privilege irk the living daylight out of bus drivers, dinosaur brain cannot cope with the idea that someone has right above and beyond this hulking lump of death.
So what are the tactics used by buses? On this section of my post I would totally appreciate some additional points – so please add any you know of. I will add the ones that I have noticed most commonly:
- Waiting at lights or stopped in traffic, so close to the left that it is impossible to underpass them – this means overtaking them on the right and then getting fast back over to the left to continue the journey. Why do they need to do this – it is especially irksome when they do it despite driving on one of their overly wide bus lanes.
- Never letting you make a right turn when they are coming in the opposite direction – whilst this may not affect them directly as obviously in this circumstance you cannot be racing them. They do it for one of two reason a) to slow you down in case you are racing one of their buddies or b) it just plain and straight shows how much they hate cyclists.
- Overtaking you so close that the air blast is almost enough to knock you off your bike.
Now this may come as a shock – but at this point I would like to give a pat on the back to 99.9% of all car drivers – certainly in London I have found them to be very cautious and polite to cyclists. This is one of the things that has most stunned me in a positive way – keep it up guys (but block any buses when you can and do us all a favour).