Bikes + Buses = ♥

At almost any time of day, you can observe both bikes and buses co-existing on campus. All Blacksburg Transit buses have bike racks on them, and most folks who ride a bike to campus have at one point or another ridden local transit as well. Bikes and buses use the same portion of the roadway – cyclists typically stay to the right, which is the portion of the lane used by a bus when pulling over to make a stop. However, the road experience of a cyclist and a bus driver are very different.

Despite these differences, there are some perks for being a cyclist on a BT bus; all buses have bike racks, creating the opportunity to combine bus + bike for a mega-trip, or to travel each leg of your journey by a different set of wheels.

BT Bike Rack Tips

When loading or unloading a bike on the BT bike rack, make sure the driver sees you – unless you have eye contact with the driver, you can’t be sure you’ve been seen. Be aware of traffic when loading/unloading your bike; stay toward the curb side of the bus — the vehicles in the travel lane cannot see you next to the bus. When you are getting off the bus to retrieve your bike, you should exit through the front door and remind the bus driver that you’re grabbing a bike off the rack. Also, if you are trying to ride with your bike and the rack is full: start pedaling, because your bike can’t ride inside the bus.

BT’s own Erik Olsen demonstrates the simplicity of putting a bike on a bus rack

Buses + Bikes on the Road

Generic Schematic of Bus Blind Spots

Some blind spots run the length and height of the bus. Some are just near the ground, which is why you should never kneel while putting your bike on the bike rack of a bus.

Bus drivers may have a birds-eye view, but they have a lot of blind spots. As a general rule, anything behind the wheel of the bus is a blind spot. For a bus driver to see you, you need to be able to see the driver. This means you should never pass a bus on the right – there is no way for the driver to see you. If you are travelling as fast or faster than the bus, you can pass on the left – make sure to signal appropriately and give the bus at least 3 feet to maximize your maneuvering space and also to give the driver the best chance to see you in his/her mirrors.

Handy List for Sharing the Road

  1. Pass only to the left of the bus and give the driver plenty of room. Cyclists don’t appreciate it when larger vehicles don’t give them adequate space while passing, and bus drivers don’t need cyclists buzzing them, either.
  2.  No leapfrogging. If you can stay ahead of the bus, pass with care. However, it is unsafe and annoying for both the cyclist and bus driver to repeatedly have to pass each other. If you can’t pass a bus, stay well behind it.
  3. When near a bus, assume you are in a blind spot and watch carefully. Drivers will signal for turns and stops. Ride predictably, and assume the driver can’t see you.
  4. A bus is about 40 feet long and weighs at least 40,000 pounds. Think about the bus’ turning radius and stopping distance – a bus driver needs as much space and time as you can give.

Handy List for using the bike Racks

  1. Make sure the driver sees you loading and unloading. Use eye contact and communication.
  2. Avoid leaving items on your bike that could fall off (like dangling locks). You will be sad when you lose them.
  3. Stay close to the curb. Don’t move in front of traffic while loading/unloading your bike. Other drivers cannot see you in front of the bus.
  4. Bikes aren’t allowed inside of buses, and bike racks are first-come-first-served

Handy Links Related to This Article

Blacksburg Transit


One response to “Bikes + Buses = ♥

  1. Thanks for the video on how the bus-front bike racks work. I’ve just started cycling in town again, saw the racks, and wondered. They seem a little confusing when you look at them just riding past. They’re now demystified and I think I’ll take a hybrid transport route into town this weekend!

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