I’m in a ranting mood. Cranky. Maybe I need coffee.
Look. Does anybody else get annoyed when there’s a bus in the way? If I ever have road rage on my bicycle, which isn’t often mind you, it usually involves a bus, rather than an errant motorist.
I’m not proud of this. But I ask this inappropriate question anyway: Aren’t buses constantly gumming up the works? This probably isn’t entirely true, but this is a rant. It doesn’t have to be true.
For example, the other day I heard a guy ranting about how the traffic lights in Eugene weren’t “timed” properly. He was talking about driving in his car. Oh, geez. I’ve lived in a few towns in my life. And in every town I’ve lived, I’ve heard people complain about this: “This is the only town in the country where they can’t seem to figure out how to ‘time’ the traffic lights! What is it with these people?!” Of course, what this complaint really means is this: “My very important life is not something to be interrupted by somebody else’s red light.”
But let’s proceed.
I occasionally find myself in the Leapfrog Situation: Bus roars past me, then pulls over 50 yards up the road — in the bike lane, of course, because as any cyclist knows the bike lane is also the bus parking lane.
At this point you basically have four options:
- Stop and wait behind the bus, taking in the odor of freshly combusted diesel fuel.
- Veer right onto the sidewalk, careful to dodge disembarking bus passengers (for whom I insist that have no ill will).
- Veer left into the open half of the traffic lane and go past (after checking for cars coming up behind you, of course).
- Crash into the back of the bus.
The correct answer here, people, would be (1) or (3). Option (2) is always a bad idea and runs afoul of my pet peeve against riding on the sidewalk, especially when there are pedestrians present and better alternatives. Option (4), of course, is best avoided. I usually choose option (3).
A few seconds later, the bus begins accelerating, gets up to speed and goes lumbering past me again — only to pull over into the bike lane at the next stop, typically not far ahead. So I pass the bus again … etc. Hence, leapfrog.
I hesitate to wade into the EmX controversy — you know, whether Lane Transit District should build a dedicated “bus rapid transit” line on West 11th Avenue — and other streets — out to west Eugene.
But I will go ahead and tell you my position anyway, because my position is a tried-and-true, red-blooded expression of patriotic American values: I support anything that gets buses the hell out of my way. That means my bike lane, everybody!
I know that’s not an issue on West 11th Avenue, where there is no bike lane, but I don’t care. And, moreover, you would think that people who drive cars on streets where buses make frequent stops (e.g. West 11th) would feel the same way.
You would think giving the bus its own lane would smooth things out for everyone. But what do I know about traffic engineering? Well, that doesn’t matter either. A lack of knowledge is all the better to rant with, my sweet.
Still. Among the many signs posted on various streets around town in the well-organized campaign against the west Eugene extension of EmX, there is one version — my favorite — that says: “More buses everywhere. No bus to nowhere.”
Translated, that means, “More buses in more bike lanes. No place for the bus to call home.”
But at least it’s handy to have an advertisement like this right on the back of the bus: