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.