Bus in Bike Lane
Terrence asked: I’ve had this happen several times and I cannot find the relevant F.S. When buses are discharging passengers, do they need to take the bike lane in order to discharge onto the sidewalk or can they discharge into a bike lane (which seems absurd – discharging into a roadway)?
I’m always passing cars since I ride relatively fast in a low-speed area and, while I certainly pay attention to blinkers and car’s actions, when a bus stops to discharge passengers directly into the bike lane I have almost collided with said passengers. What is the correct action: Should I be stopping or should the buses take the bike lane? It seems either way I’ll get exhaust in my face but I’d like to justify why.
The statutes permit the bus driver to stop temporarily in the bike lane to discharge and embark passengers.
s. 316.1945 – Stopping, Standing, or Parking Prohibited in Specified Places
(1)Except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or official traffic control device, no person shall:
(b)Stand or park a vehicle, whether occupied or not, except momentarily to pick up or discharge a passenger or passengers:
6. On an exclusive bicycle lane.
Since stopping outside the bike lane creates the dangerous situation you have experienced, the safest legal option would seem to be to stop the bus at the curb or edge of the roadway, in the bike lane.
Passing the bus on the right within the bike lane is not recommended.
You did not point out the option that I would consider if conditions permit, safely changing lanes and passing the bus to the left. That is certainly legal and avoids the likely discharge of passengers and would be the only option other than waiting behind the bus if the bus were at the curb.
The two phrases in the Bicycle Regulations, avoiding any unsafe condition or potential conflict, and parked or moving vehicle, make this a legal reason to leave the bike lane or right side of the roadway to pass the bus.
s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations
(5)(a)Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
3. When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle …. which makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge or within a bicycle lane.
Since it sounds like you ride pretty fast, you might want to anticipate the stop and prepare to pass the bus when it slows to stop. That is another provision in the Bicycle Regulations that allows leaving the bike lane or right side of the roadway.
1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
This statute may apply even though it is most obvious for an actual door that is the obstacle and not the discharged passengers.
s. 316.2005 – Opening and Closing Vehicle Doors
No person shall open any door on a motor vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic ….
Stopping the bus to the far right in the bike lane is legal and the safest method of discharging passengers. Passing the bus on the left is legal.
See this post also:
It should be noted that the driver of a bus overtaking and passing a cyclist must insure that is accomplished safely and does not interfere with the cyclist whether the cyclist is in a bike lane or not. The driver cannot legally pass, swerve right and come to an abrupt stop in front of the cyclist. See the posts about Overtaking and Passing.
You may want to contact the bus company with this information and advise them of the situation and ask that they inform drivers of the unsafe discharge of passengers into the bike lane. They may be creating a potential liability by opening the bus door and discharging passengers into the bike lane.
There are places in Florida where buses cross a bike lane to stop in a bus bay and the bike lane continues along the left side of the bus bay. If there is no bus bay, a transit bus should stop in the bike lane. Stopping outside the bike lane to discharge or pick up passengers puts both pedestrians and bicyclists at risk.
Cyclists are at risk, because a cyclist who tries to pass a stopped bus on the right may be surprised by someone who suddenly steps off the bus, and conflict or collide with them. People waiting to board the bus may also be surprised by the cyclist.
Section 316.084(2) permits overtaking another vehicle on the right “only under conditions permitting such movement in safety”. As a cyclist cannot see inside the bus, the only way to be sure of passing bus safely on the right would be to stop at each bus door (many buses have two doors) and wait for any transit users to alight or board. The cyclist might as well wait behind the bus or, if a gap in traffic permits, pass the bus on the left.