I'd say Stagecoach aren't quite aware of what's going on outside their Newcastle depots and offices, once their drivers are released onto the roads. At best, they don't know. I say that giving them the benefit of a doubt.
In a letter to me, Stagecoach say "All our driving staff are trained to have the highest regard for the safety of our customers, other road users and pedestrians. To make sure our staff are attaining this high standard we regularly undertake covert assessments of driving standards and act swiftly to investigate any allegation of driving standards or general conduct and performance, which will also involve a review of any on bus CCTV data.
"At Stagecoach our drivers are taught to drive with safety and courtesy at the top of their list of priorities, so therefore, given the large investment into the training of our staff, it is always disappointing to learn of an occasion where this high level of investment has not been repaid by a member of staff."
It was this event on 28 September 2012 13:50 that shook me badly:
- the bus driver of No.1 (NK60 DNN I think) on John Dobson Street, travelling northwards, was overtaking me (on my bicycle at the time) with very little room to spare. I was able to touch the side of the bus. At any speed that distance is totally unacceptable and the driver requires some serious improvements in their driving style to make them safe for our roads
- as if that wasn't enough, the driver then went on to run a red light (across Northumberland Road).
And here are Stagecoach trying - again - to convince everyone how super smashing they are, only to learn that others don't think so.
Here are some stats. My stats, collected by myself in a period of just a few days. A little experiment. It's worth noting, that I have not been out searching for these contraventions. I just happened to stumble across them on my commute, passing through Newcastle city centre.
- 9 October at ca 16:20 - driver of No.11, number plate ending in KFO, who at the top end Pilgrim Street pulled entirely unnecessarily into the ASL
- 9 October at ca 16:20 - (cont.) then overtook me (on my bike at the time) with rather little room to spare on John Dobson Street.
- 10 October ca 08:05 - blocking the ASL for no reason whatsoever - No.15a, number plate ending in YUD, Market Street westbound (where it meets Pilgrim Street, at police station)
- 10 October ca 16:15 - blocking the ASL for no reason whatsoever. No.12, didn't catch the number plate, Blackett Street, eastbound (where it intersects John Dobson Street) - driver was turning right, onto John Dobson Street
- 15 October ca 17:20 - Stagecoach bus No. 40, number plate ending in DJY: Blackett Street (New Bridge Street West), travelling eastbound - driver preparing to turn right, onto John Dobson Street entirely blocking the ASL which was totally unnecessary
- 15 October ca 17:20 - (cont.) and then - still at red - the driver was pulling onto the crossing over the stop line into the pedestrian space
- 18 October 2012 ca 09:08 - John Dobson Street, southbound, Stagecoach driver blocking ASLs seemingly unnecessarily No.1 number plate ending in DNN, at Northumberland Road crossing
- 18 October 2012 ca 09:09 - Stagecoach driver blocking ASLs seemingly unnecessarily No.10 number plate ending in DJJ, at Market Street crossing
- 18 October 2012 ca 09:10 - Stagecoach driver blocking ASLs seemingly unnecessarily No.12 didn’t catch the number plate, also at Market Street crossing
And sideswipes by heavy vehicles, well, I do not have to explain how that feels to a cyclist. It's terrifying.
1) Maybe a good-old walkabout by Stagecoach managers would do the trick and open their eyes to epidemic misconduct by their drivers.
2) Or meeting the Newcastle Cycling Campaign for a bike ride round town as was offered, to learn about the hostility out there, learning by doing: here and here.
3) Or letting me chat to individual bus drivers as offered with every letter I sent Stagecoach.
As cyclists we are asked to share the road. Being squishy objects we heavily depend on others' good driving skills, respect, courtesy and foresight too. I'd rather have some designated delineated space where this conflict and confrontation is removed.
4) Maybe Stagecoach want to join the Newcastle Cycling Campaign in their call for better space clarity and delineation?
A Stagecoach employee says after telling me about a payslip flyer they were preparing for their staff "I am confident that you should see a marked improvement. I would like to add though, the majority of our drivers do adhere to the rule, but in certain circumstances, it is difficult to bring such a large vehicle to a safe and smooth stop when lights have a short change cycle."
I do not mean this to be an attack on Stagecoach. In the end I, just like the Stagecoach employee, hope to see a "marked improvement". I just think that their belief and reality are too far apart. Unless anything of the above is happening I continue to believe they don't really care.
It's also worth seeing these Newcastle videos corroborating the above.
nebikene youtube 1
nebikene youtube 2
nebikene youtube 3