Here's a letter I recently received from reader "BR" about a near-miss with a VTA bus and the steps he took afterward. I particularly like this anecdote, as it shows that not only was BR being level-headed during and after his close encounter, but also that VTA responded quickly and thoroughly when they received a complaint.
I commute year round for about 3,0000 miles via the GRT [Guadalupe River Trail] and 2.5 miles of Willow Street in San Jose and have plenty of stories like most cyclists. I have been chased briefly by a rooster, the same skunk on several occasions, I am on a howdy basis with several homeless folks, plus I see my company CIO running hard pre-dawn most mornings.
Last Thursday a VTA bus passed me and took the gentle right turn approaching Meridian Ave at what I guess was 40mph (35 posted). My only problem with this was that he used about 1.5-2’ of the bike lane that I was occupying at the exact same moment and in the same space. I made note of the time, the bus number, and the route number in the LED. I logged into VTA.org the next morning and logged a facts only complaint. In that complaint I also stated that VTA drivers never really worry me because over the years I have driven/cycled alongside their buses and I think that the driver skills are really high. This was a bad one. He came into the bike lane, legally over a hashed white line, and occupied the space I would have been in had I not bailed out and gotten out of his way. You know that rush of wind that you get from the front of a large silent vehicle right as it passes you? That rush began my immediate exit from the space that we now both occupied. I was moving along at 24-26mph when that rush of air moved me. I had a Knog helmet light flashing red plus a Planet Bike tail light. Also had the 200 lumen Light & Motion headlight flashing plus a white Knog on the front of the helmet. If he saw me he is a real problem but I suspect that he never saw me which sends a chill when I think about it. Given the spot where we came together I assume that he had a straight line view of me for 1+ miles.
Got a call from VTA this morning thanking me for the report, assuring me that the incident went to the driver’s supervisor and that the pair of them would meet at the site of the thankfully injury free incident and address the complaint. That’s a good system and I encourage cycling commuters to provide good and bad feedback to VTA
Reason for the email? Log your complaints, issues, observations so that the vehicles know that we are out there and give credit where it’s due. The VTA crew is really top notch and I trust that my feedback to them is useful in training drivers to share space with cyclists. Thanks VTA and no hard feelings.
I have to personally agree with BR: Most VTA drivers are very cautious when we're sharing the road, but the few who find cyclists to be a nuisance can make for a very scary commute. I'm just glad that BR's experience didn't leave him injured or dead, and that he took the opportunity to contact VTA and make some proverbial lemonade.