Minding my own business cycling on the quays in Dublin and…

Minding my own business cycling in the bus lane on the quays early on a Sunday morning and I notice a bus is behind me. The bus driver quickly enough pulls into the next lane which by which time that lane is the bus lane and the inside lane is the a left turning lane. So, that’s grand, right?

I was cycling in the middle of the lane as is recommended safe cycling practice in both Ireland and the UK — especially in the case of where there’s cars parked on the inside or a risk of a close pass. The Rules of the Road have been updated recently to make it clearer that this practice is allowed.

I had similar lane positioning to the guy in the below image from Google Street View:

So, the bus pulls out and overtakes me with apparent no issue. As happens in rush hour, never mind when the quays are less than half empty on a Sunday morning.

No. It could not just be that simple. The bus driver — from a company who will remain unnamed for now — started shouting at me.

He asked me something to the extent of was I going to choose a lane — this was a bit confusing given that I had been cycling straight as possible down the inside lane, while maintaining the centre position.

I shouldn’t have even bothered to engage with him. But if he was shouting at me he’s probably doing the same thing to less confident people who might be put off cycling by confrontational drivers like him.

I said to him back that I’m doing nothing wrong and that he needs to read the Rules of the Road. He started going on, so, I just said that he could at least have respect for his passengers. Which he seemed quite happy to inform me he had no passengers at the time.

Just a few seconds after he overtook me the inside lane is no longer a bus lane and turns into a turning lane for Jervis Street — it’s impossible for his bus to continue straight in the inside lane, unless he was going to run over bollards. All the more reason why the bus driver’s actions were strange.

Only people cycling can continue in the inside lane:

Yes, I should have left it at that. But I foolishly didn’t. I was early to where I was going and had a bit of time to burn, and his bus stop wasn’t much out of my way.

The main thing playing on my mind was this bully thinking it was ok to needlessly shout at people minding their own business and leaving me on the quays thinking he was somehow right. Was he going to endanger the next person he found cycling legally and safely in the centre of the lane?

It was irrational and foolish to think he’d be anything but irrational when I caught up with him.

I asked the bus driver what his problem was and then he put the question back at me. I said he was the one shouting out the bus window at me when I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

He said that on the quays he asked me about consideration for other road users — I said he was changing his story and he actually shouted out of the bus about what lane I was choosing.

He then said I should have shared the lane — did he actually want me to share a lane about 3 metres wide with bus? Never mind the parked cars to the side where a door could swing open any second. He indicated that he did want me to share with a bus, and I started to leave.

It’s around this point he decided to jump off his seat, take his phone out and started to record me, telling me that he was going to put me on social media. Telling me “this is the kind of person I am” because I interrupted his day. It was ok for him to interrupt me when I was minding my own business on the quays.

Without thinking, I pulled my phone out and also started recording him too. To be clear about this: I wasn’t recording him before this, nor had I threatened anything about social media. It felt like this guy must regularly have encounters like this and other people must have threaten to put him or his bus on social media. I hadn’t threatened to post images online and had no intention of doing so. Although as he could probably guessed I was going to complain to his company, which is why his next step was again strange.

He was getting all up in my face to the point I had to ask him to stand back. His reply was “what was I going to do” as if he was looking for it all to get physical… or maybe he just knew I wasn’t going to do so.

I said he was “standing up to me”, when I meant he was squaring up to me. He took this opportunity to say he stood up to me back there (seemingly referring to the quays) where he said he asked me “a simple question” about taking up the lane — the idea that bus drivers are “standing up to” people who are not cycling in the door zone by shouting at them is worrying, but not hugely surprising.

I told him I was cycling in the middle of the lane because of aggressive drivers like him who pass too close, but he just kept ranting like how I was “hiding my face from his camera phone”.

To be clear and honest about this: I told his awaiting passengers the driver was and was continuing to be aggressive with me and that his company has a poor record around cyclists and if they care they should complain to the company.

I started to cycle off, when he shouted — right beside his awaiting passengers on the street — that I should “fuck off”.

I stopped, shouted back that I wasn’t aggressive with him and hadn’t used bad language, but that I’m sure he was going to tell his passengers differently. Which I think he smirked at, but I left it at that with him.

A while later I phoned his company, I was told reassuringly that a manager would be informed, but it wasn’t very reassuring that the woman who answered didn’t ask for my name or contact details.

Segregated cycle routes are the way forward, a cycle route on the quays is long over due and should be trialed as soon as possible. But what does it take to get bus, taxis and other drivers like these to know and accept that people cycling are allowed to use the full lane? Should the Road Safety Authority or the National Transport Authority be running advertisements like the below one by LA Metro?

The LA Metro is the short name for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is basically the equivalent of the NTA in Ireland — the NTA is both the licensing authority for buses and taxis, and is also legally tasked with promoting cycling, but shows silo thinking when these areas clash.

https://irishcycle.com/2019/08/06/can-dublin-greenthequays-if-it-means-disrupting-car-traffic/

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

5 Comments

  1. Good God, that really is a shocking story. Who did this happen to? Was this yourself Cian? That’s fucking awful. As you say, this sort of behavior is really intimidating. It would definitely cause the less assertive persons to avoid ever cycling again. The article said that the bus company was called, but will anything at all happen??

  2. @Wolf — thanks, yes, unfortunately it’s a first hand account. Nice Sunday morning besides.

    And nothing eventful in my cycle this morning besides — my style of cycling is to cycle assertively and also as accommodating as I can — ie take the lane where needed but to stop at traffic lights (unless unsafe to stop when it quickly turns orange or some idiot driver not slowing behind), and try to do things like slow down to let pedestrians cross even when they have started to jaywalk, or let buses pull out of stops etc. And I was cycling that way this morning.

  3. Oisín O'Connor August 18, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    Do/should the NTA have conditions to issuing bus licenses to private companies? Driver codes of conduct? Or can bus companies just operate completely unregulated?

  4. Yep. Shocking but shockingly unsurprising (if that makes sense!)

    Here’s a programme being run overseas for bus + truck drivers (I worked on it til last September)- https://sharetheroad.org.nz/driver-manager-workshops.

    It’s originally based on Transport for London concepts but has evolved for local circumstances. The programme manager is working hard to get this sort of training introduced into driver instruction

    I imagine this sort of training could in future form part of continual professional competency training/ testing in EU systems; not sure what’s being done in that space over here. Mike McKillen has done a good bit of work around this.

    Mike might now whether Dublin Bus run something similar when their drivers are in training…

  5. It is not an uncommon occurrence. I cycle west along the quays every day. Last week when cycling along Edan Quay between Butt Bridge and the Rosie Hackett Bridge, I was out from the curb but not in the middle of the lane, and a Dublin bus passed me rather close – within touching distance of me on a Dublin Bike and I did touch the bus. The bus stopped just before the Rosie Hackett Bridge so I came up beside the driver and asked if he knew how much space should be giving when overtaking cyclists. He said 1.5m, so I asked him why he didn’t give me that much space. He replied that I should have been cycling closer to the curb (so effectively he executed a punishment pass). I said cyclists were entitled to use the full lane and it was recommended for safety reasons. Even when as a cyclist you are doing everything to make yourself safe and the overtaking party know what should be done they are willing to use put cyclists in danger – there is just so much wrong with that.

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