Mouse vs Elephant


Cyclists are vulnerable in bus lanes because they are “like a mouse travelling with an elephant.”

That’s an apt description Barbara Cuthbert from Cycle Action used during a council debate about Dominion Rd bus lanes -and I think of it every time I travel in a bus and as we head off after stopping at a bus stop, I notice a cyclist heading up the side of the bus ready to be potentially whacked by the bus moving back into the road.

So it’s interesting to find out what cyclists thought when they stepped into a bus driver’s seat and saw the world from the other side.

Environment Canterbury has just hosted a workshop in Christchurch which invited regular cyclists and bus drivers to take a look from the other side of the windscreen.

Cyclists got to experience bus operations up close, including seeing the view from the bus driver’s seat, and hear about the everyday challenges that drivers face. Participants then followed a 6km cycle route around the city, with each cyclist buddying up with a driver to talk about potential traffic/safety issues and experiences along the route.

Glen Koorey of the CAN cycling group said that cyclists commented on how difficult it is for bus drivers to see behind and to the side, exactly where cyclists tend to be.

Alex Bateman, a planner with Abley Transportation Consultants said that bus drivers are well trained professionals who take the stresses of the road in their stride.

“It was a little different out on the bikes though. My bus driver buddy said it was a relief to get out from the main traffic and into a bike lane where he felt a bit safer.”

“It was amazing to see how quickly people’s viewpoints change once they can see the road through other eyes,” he said.

Koorey says that from the feedback session, everyone agreed that considerate road use and a little courtesy goes a long way.




  1. Matt L says:

    Sounds like a good initiative

  2. karl says:

    “So it’s interesting to find out what cyclists thought when they stepped into a bus driver’s seat and saw the world from the other side.”

    Cycle Action Auckland has actually run a similar workshop here in Auckland a month or so ago already, with NZ Bus.

    It’s a good initiative, though maybe a bit limited outside the bus driver community - i.e. you can’t expect that bus companies will be willing to run thousands of cyclists (or in a more cycling-intensive future, tens of thousands) through the course, even if all said cyclists were willing to take the course. It would be great if bus drivers got such an induction as part of their training, though.

    At the end of the day, Barbara is right - buses and cyclists don’t mix all that well (and novices will always feel like “mice”, scaring them off from cycling in the first place). So bus lanes (even wide ones) should not be considered cycle lanes (like some Councils have done). They are better than narrow lanes though.

  3. LucyJH says:

    I had noticed that bus drivers can’t see you because of where their mirrors are. It’s particularly if you’re quite close to the side of the bus. Often, when I’m coming up behind them I see their eyes go wide when they finally notice me. I defy anybody to fix this problem on Symonds street through courteous cycling/driving. They need to widen the road.

  4. Matt says:

    Some bus drivers are just tossers, though. One Saturday morning while riding up GSR just city-side of Countdown Greenlane I had an H&E bus almost force me into the back of a parked car through not giving me enough space. Wasn’t like there wasn’t space to give, either.
    Not a good day that one, as I also had a car driver pass so close to me approaching lights in Otahuhu that his wing mirror clipped my handlebars (fortunately I was only doing about 20), and then give me the finger when I yelled out.

  5. karl says:

    Get one of these - flexible, so even if they hit it, you’re not going to be thrown. And of course it works during the day too.

    I love how it gives me some extra space and peace of mind (plus you an lower it with a quick grip behind you when you are going through a tight space). Only problem is that for a bike light / safety device, it is still pretty expensive.


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