Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nearly Struck Again By A HART Bus On Rowlett Park Drive In Tampa

For the second time this year and the third time in three years, a HART bus driver nearly killed me on Rowlett Park Drive in Tampa. This time, it happened at 11:50 AM while I was cycling my road bicycle and heading south on Rowlett Park Drive.

Today, the bus driver was driving Route 18 in bus 2013 and I took a photo of him at a red light on 22nd Street.

The bus driver came within only a few inches of hitting me when he passed me while traveling south on Rowlett Park Drive. This is the same road that I asked the city of Tampa to have "Share the Road" signs and was told initially a sign cost too much to maintain. Eventually, a city transportation director gave in and approved the Share the Road signs, but then Mayor Pam Iorio laid him off.

When I caught up with the driver today, he claimed he did not know that there is a law that requires a driver to pass a biyclist by a minimum of three feet.

He said he had to pass me so closely because there was oncoming traffic in the opposite lane.

When I explained to the driver that he should have simply waited a few seconds for a few cars to pass by in the opposite direction and then safely move around me, he told me to bike on the sidewalk.

This is very disappointing because I met Assistant Police Chief John Bennett to discuss bicycle laws and safety in Tampa. If a public bus driver does not even know there is a law requiring a vehicle to pass a bicyclist by a minimum of three feet, you can only imagine how clueless everyday average drivers are about the three-foot buffer law.

"You know what's going to happen? They're going to kill someone," said bicyclist and Tampa lawyer Tom Singletary, a member of SWFBUD.

In 36 years of dealing with car vs. bicycle accidents, Singletary said he was not aware of a single case where a police officer gave a ticket to a driver in a case against a bicyclist.

I filed a complaint against this driver and I gad to go through three people or electronic answering stations to finally reach a live human being by the name of Margie. Margie coldly took the information -- the road name, the route number, the time.

No "sorry that a bus nearly hit you" from Margie.

I will be attending the next HART board meeting to ask about the agency's bicycle awareness education.

Stay tuned.

8 comments:

KC said...

that's outrageous but so commonplace it seems. glad you are ok.

CyclerJim said...

So what else is new? I would expect nothing less. I was on Hillsborough Ave ( around 40th St)on a Sunday morning with barely a car in sight, when a Hartline bus forced me into a curb. Three lanes in each direction and the chicken middle turn lane, no traffic in sight and still there is not enough room for the bus. I've also had it happen by yellow school buses as well. In the over ten years I've been cycling, it gets worse every day. Alan, he was well aware of what he did to you. I'm sure he felt, if you're going to be on the road, he is not going to move one inch to to avoid you. The average for me is at least three "almost kills me" in a 50 or 60 mile ride. Ten years ago I rode 25,000 miles in 22 months and it was probably only three in all that time.
Earlier this year on Hwy 60 in Clearwater, a big SUV made a right turn in front of me and stopped, hoping that I would crash into him. I started yelling at him and he told be to use the sidewalk. Drivers witnessed it and yelled that I should call the police. Of course, they didn't, and I don't have a phone. Just another day in paradise. Let's face the fact that when a driver kills a cyclist, the only punishment will be either a failure to yield or careless driving ticket. Drivers know there will be no punishment.

GhostRider said...

Send a letter to the entire HART board and to the director prior to going to their meeting and express your displeasure at your treatment (and the driver's response). Filing a formal complaint is good, but raising a stink elsewhere prevents that complaint from getting "lost in the shuffle".

Strangely enough, I've had nothing but good experiences with the HART bus drivers on both Nebraska Ave. and Tampa Street -- and I commute during their busy morning runs. I've always gotten plenty of room, even after playing "leapfrog" with some of the buses as I head to or from work.

Ellen said...

Alan, glad you are okay. I will be happy to send emails or attend the HART mtg. I believe cyclists have to pass a test to use the bike carrier on the front of the bus. What tests do HART drivers take? Just my thoughts.

Brad said...

A couple Share the Road and "3 Feet Passing" signs on Rowlett Park might help. It's just wide enough that I feel bad taking the lane, but narrow enough that an SUV almost always clips me once on the ride down it, prompting lane-takin' again. I've even had people pass me on the right (going off the road into the grass) on Rowlett.
My experiences are generally good with HART, and I tend to try to move out of their way to let them pass (i respect public transit, screw private passenger vehicles). My girlfriend, though, once had a 6 driver tell her to get in the bike lane on Holly Dr on campus as she was making a left turn (on a two lane+bike lane road, when he was turning right in the other lane). And most people treat Holly Dr's bike lane as parking and Hart/USF buses stop in it anyway.

Eric said...

I've faced the same treatment on Rowlett Park Drive. I can't say a bus driver has pushed me off but the drivers are very aggressive. As much as I hate to admit it, I do indeed take the sidewalk because I fear my safety. Good luck, Alan.

Donny said...

@Brad:
Yeah, the traffic on campus, car and bus alike, is pretty crazy. I've nearly been killed by the Bull Runner buses a few times and HART is pretty sloppy too. Holly is an accident (or intentional injury) waiting to happen.

But it seems that the buses used to be better and seem to be getting worse.

mksandoz said...

the "Share the Road" sign that used to be on Rowlett Park drive is now on the ground on the far side of the drainage ditch by the train tracks....looks like a car hit it and no one has bothered to put it back up