Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Riverside Cyclist Hit by Bus - Video

On Wednesday, September 7th, Bike Jax Board Member Abhishek Mukherjee got on his Xtracycle and left his Riverside apartment as he had done thousands of times before. This time however, his ride was going to be just a little bit different. Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) bus #2105 would see to that. Bike Jax has obtained a copy of the video from the bus's cameras. We are posting it here not as a platform for vengeance, but simply to show how vulnerable cyclists are as vehicles and most of us    most likely already know the feeling of being buzzed too uncomfortably close by a JTA bus. Despite our many attempts to contact JTA for information on driver training and education concerning cyclists, we have come up empty. With the best of intentions, we have chosen to post this video in the hopes that maybe public response might encourage better driver training pertaining to cyclists. Audio portions of the video have been removed to lessen its severity.

Abhishek left from his apartment towards Downtown on Riverside Ave and as usual, a stickler for the rules, he took control of the extra narrow lane on Riverside Avenue. He could hear the JTA bus approaching in the distance behind him and making its normal stops. 5 blocks later he stopped at the red stop signal at the intersection of Riverside Ave and Computer Power. (Intersection in front of RAM, Google lists as Gilmore St. but not so) As he waited for the signal to change, the bus was sitting directly behind him. Once the light changed, he proceeded through the intersection where Riverside Ave. prepares to widen to a 14 foot lane. As it was rush hour traffic and knowing the lane would widen he can clearly be seen in the video moving closer to the lane-edge-marking but never giving up the lane. JTA bus #2105 never wavered in the slightest from it's path and never made any attempt to provide the State mandated 3 foot clearance while passing.

JTA hit the wrong guy, Abhishek not only knows and can recite each and every statute pertaining to cycling, he actually knows how those laws are interpreted and applied. Fortunately, he never lost consciousness and could recall every detail of the incident. Most times the cyclist isn't so lucky and authorities are left hearing only on side of the story. This time that would not be the case; no "he suddenly veered in front of me", no "I never saw him", no "he came out of nowhere and just hit me" (which is what the driver told authorities). Abhishek also has another very useful resource, attorney Chris Burns. Chris is without a doubt the most knowlegeable and skilled cycling counsel in the Southeast.

The Jacksonville Sheriffs office found the driver at fault and while I'm not certain what he was cited with, I do know he wasn't cited for The 3 foot Law.

316.083  Overtaking and passing a vehicle.
The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules hereinafter stated:
(1)  The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall give an appropriate signal as provided for in s. 316.156, shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.
(2)  Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle, on audible signal or upon the visible blinking of the headlamps of the overtaking vehicle if such overtaking is being attempted at nighttime, and shall not increase the speed of his or her vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
(3)  A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318.


macksledge said...

hit a cyclist? get yo' leg broke!

Katie Smith said...

I had heard the verbal account and seen the mangled Xtracycle, but this was extremely hard to watch. I'm so glad the very-possible worst outcome did not happen in this incident.

I just showed this video to my friend "T" who responded as follows:

I only watched the video twice, but it looks like the driver had nearly passed the biker when the collision occurred, and it didn't look like the driver had swerved or otherwise deviated from his course. It looked more liked the biker hit the bus to me. He was in the bike lane, and the bus was in its own lane. As far as I could tell, the bus didn't move into his lane. I may be a little biased here, because I'm getting tired of bikers around the beach running stop signs/ignoring other traffic devices and then freaking out if anyone gets in their way (even pedestrians).

Okay, I got a bit angry.

One, there is no bike lane. The cyclist appears to be booking it toward the road margin (not bike lane) to (voluntarily) cede the lane to the bus and was unable to do so quickly enough to avoid the approaching vehicle.

I don't like to mull the other possible outcomes had Abhishek maintained his lane position. The bus driver appeared to have no plans to slow to the speed of the vehicle ahead of him.

Two, "T" mentioned that he is biased, and I believe it's a tendency among the general public to extrapolate the habits of ALL cyclists by the behavior of a nonrepresentative sample. Oh look, the definition of stereotyping. Abhishek, as noted, is the textbook example of a stickler for the rules. I have ridden with him on multiple occasions and have never witnessed him so much as forget to signal a turn or "roll-stop" a red light or stop sign. Under the circumstances, I can't picture a scenario where he could have changed his behavior to prevent this collision, save storming the sidewalks rather than riding his vehicle on the streets where vehicles should be.

Final note: misguided as "T" is on his view of this incident, it is evidence of common frustration resulting from a perfectly real problem. The only sure ways to combat the distaste and misconception is to not be the stereotype, and to encourage smart behavior. Unfortunately, existing traffic laws and infrastructure do not always provide the safety to cyclists that they provide to motorists. But ignoring traffic signals completely is most often for convenience's sake and rarely because they might cause you harm. Obey traffic laws to the extent that they do not endanger you, and absolutely do not ignore them based on convenience when doing so violates others' right-of-way or safety.

Tom Pennington said...

crazy, glad he is okay. isn't there signs on the back of JTA busses that say 3 ft it's the law with a arrow and a car.

JohnnyK said...

Katie your friend "T" needs to get their eyes checked. That is clearly not a bike lane that is an emergency lane.
To the rest of those that read this no vehicle operator has the right to run over or hit another vehicle on purpose or otherwise. Even if the other vehicle is in the wrong you as a vehicle operator has the responsibility to make every effort not to collide into another vehicle.

Abhishek said...

Posted here

Anonymous said...

I love how the bus driver looked at him as she passed him!!! She can not say that she did not see him!

Jason Randall said...

I've watched this video multiple times this morning, and I read the copy/paste of the 3 foot law.

The law is confusing to me, as it states the driver must yield to the RIGHT.

The biker was on the right side.

Then, when I reviewed the video, in the first 7 seconds in the lower right frame, you can see the bus has less than 12 inches from the center divider with a silver car on it's left side.

Had the driver followed the letter of the law and veered right, the cyclist would have been UNDER the tires.

Had the driver weaved left, they would have hit the car.

Can someone clarify this for me, as I'm the type to take no sides until all information is accounted for?


Judy said...

I have to say I agree with Katie Smith, it looked like the cyclist hit the bus.

Anonymous said...

First & foremost, glad Bike Guy is ok. I have lots of Bike Friends & Family so I get it. After watching/pausing the video several times, it really looks like Bike Guy could've/should've cut it a little harder, & a little sooner, to the right to get in the "Un-Bike Lane" & out of the way of the giant vehicle. Bike Guy had a choice and Bus Guy didn't. THIS time. And 'T', I really hate to say it, but I'm kinda with ya on Bike Guy leaning into the Bus. Wish we had that split second of tape when the camera turns from the front of the bus to the back...

JohnnyK said...

I think some of the commenter's here are missing something. The bus driver should have given the cyclist 3 feet room as required by law. The cyclist did nothing wrong. The cyclist did not run into the bus the bus clipped the cyclist. If the bus driver could not give 3 feet clearance because of traffic on it's left side then it should have slowed down and waited until it was clear on the left to give the cyclist 3 feet. I really don't understand why this is so hard for people to grasp. Rule #1 to safe driving if you see a vehicle in your vehicles path that is moving slower than you; you should slow down and check for options to get around the slower moving object safely. Meaning without damage to you or the other vehicle. Not just barrel over the vehicle like a maniac. The reason this happened is because the bus driver was in a hurry to get to it's next stop and they thought they could make it but never took a moment to think about what would happen if they hit the vehicle. Honestly I don't understand how people can be so stupid and still breath. It seems that every little thing has to be explained to people these days. Use a little common sense people.

JohnnyK said...

If the bus driver had given Abhishek 3 feet then this would never had happen. You guys say Abhishek leaned into the bus however if the bus had obeyed the law then Abhishek would not have been able too touch the bus. The point is until you have ridden next to buses and other large vehicles that are way too close then I don't believe you are qualified to judge. Also what some of you have failed to realize is that this is supposed to be a professional driver and I think we should hold professional drivers to a much higher standard since they get paid to drive and should know the rules of the road better than anyone. They also should know how to successfully navigate their vehicle around smaller slower moving vehicles without jeopardizing lives. While the law says you should give a minimum of 3 feet clearance it dose not mean that is all the clearance you are required to give. Also that is 3 feet from the other vehicle not 3 feet from the edge of the road. Anyway I think I better stop posting about this. I just get upset when I see people trying to protect those that are clearly in the wrong just because they don't agree with the law. Lives are more important than a bus driver getting to their next damn stop quicker. Lives are more important than making it to that damn meeting on time. Lives are more important than anything else on the damn planet. People have gotten so damn selfish and only think of themselves and are so willing to kill another person just to reach their next damn destination. I just don't get it! it's just 3 lousy feet and the most that cyclist hold up traffic is a lousy 30 seconds most traffic lights are 60 seconds or more so what is so damn important that you would try to kill someone to get it!

Abhishek said...

It was easy for JSO to assign blame to JTA when they saw that I did not swerve into the bus.
Thank you all for your comments.

I do not wish to bring bad publicity to JTA. It achieves nothing constructive. My aim as a victim and a bicycle advocate is to ensure this does not happen again.

Ernie said...

I think I'm just as pissed at some of the comments made on here than the actual incident. First and foremost, Abhishek I'm very happy to hear you were o.k. and were not severely injured or worse killed by a moving bus.

For the ones so blinded by the rules, no where on there say you HAVE to keep barreling down your lane when a vehicle is to the left or a cyclist is to the right. Just slow the fuck down until it is clear. It probably would have not taken more than 7 seconds to slow the bus enough for the vehicle to the left to go faster or slower than the bus to make a safer pass. Was that too hard to conceptualize, or are you in a mindframe that, "Oh it's my lane and I have a right to be on it as well and screw whatever is near or around me."

I have never done a ride with Abhishek, but do know enough about him that he's probably logged more miles on his bike than most roadbike riders, and is a true definition of a bike commuter. I've seen him at the St. Johns Town Center, all throughout Riverside, knowing he has solely commuted on his bike, so I SERIOUSLY DOUBT he starts off his day hoping to hit moving vehicles on his daily bike commute.

Has anyone ever ridden a bike like his with all the gear in the back? It's not the easiest or most agile bike to swerve with or maneuver in that type of situation.

Like Johnny said, the bus driver is supposed to be a professional driver and if any responsibility, always know where pedestrians, motorists and passengers are at all times. Clearly, he/she's had some type of awareness training for bicyclists since there is an actual bicycle mounted in front of the bus on the carrier!!! This bus driver failed in all accounts.

Now Abhishek my friend, you're not in the clear either. Why weren't you wearing a helmet? Not saying it would have helped if your head would have rolled under the rear tires of a bus, but I'm surprised you do not wear one. Second, it's hard to tell if you have reflectors in the rear, and everyone knows as well as I do, that they are most useful at night, but in daylight, have a $20 Superflash rear light enough to at least make people aware you're there coming from the rear. ESPECIALLY in Riverside. I have mine on day AND night.

Two years ago, while commuting to work heading southbound on San Jose Blvd, a JTA bus nearly clipped me and I HAD a bike lane. The southbound lane at 8am are normally clear in all three lanes as the congestion is mostly northbound. He clearly did not give 3ft since the right tires were ON the bike lane with no vehicles two lanes to the left. I caught up with the bus at the intersection just before the I-295 and San Jose interchange and pounded the door telling him he needed to have his license revoked for almost running my ass over. I even had enough breath to yell out, "YOU NEED TO GIVE ME 3FT YOU JACKASS. IT'S THE LAW." I'm not perfect either and could have probably used less choice words, but I had enough self control to not get off my bike and use 15 years of martial arts to catch an assault charge. I remembered the bus number and reported him to JTA. I received a call back from a "supervisor," and never heard back since. So yes, I have had a similar incident as this, short of actually falling.

Bottom line, law or no law, rule or no rule, use common sense, and if the path isn't clear whether it be a pedestrian, animal, car, truck, bicyclist, or a barricade, give enough space so that you don't hit the damn thing.

Abhishek, I'm glad you're alright man.

Abhishek said...

Thanks for your comment, Ernie. I am glad your incident did nor incur damages on any front.

I have reflective stickers in the back in three places: the very back of the xtracycle and on either end of the stoker bar (rear handlebar). See them in detail here . They are yellow and black 45 degree striped, so fairly visible during the day too.

I am not sure why I would need reflectors since it was a bright and sunny day with minimal clouds.
I do not use a tail-light during the day. I also choose not wear a helmet...but that is a different (and never-ending) discussion altogether. The bus was behind me for four blocks...therefore visibility was not an issue.

Ernie said...

Good to hear man. Those type reflector strips are awesome at night and definitely visible. The helmet and lights are suggestions, as I too have felt I've done everything to help make myself aware to motorists. I was just surprised to hear you weren't wearing one.

Since I do the majority of my rides(for fun, not as a commuter) at night, I've even considered those shirts that have the built-in light and designs that illuminate with sound sensitivity. Hope your bike didn't incur too much damage as well, and are back up on the road soon. Heck, I might see you tomorrow at RAM at the Bike Valet since I'll be at the Jaycees booth, and helping with the Oktoberfest.

Be safe regardless to you and all who ride in this crazy town we live in.

Abhishek said...


I will try to come by Jaycees booth tomorrow and say Hi.

I mostly ride to a venue for a specific activity. My riding clothes reflect the activity I am commuting for. I do not own reflective vests. I do ride in the rain, therefore my bike is geared to be plenty lit (and my rain jacket is a bright yellow).

The bike is totaled. JTA has paid me for a new xtracycle. It is being assembled.

Silverback said...

Since the bus was going straight and the bike was hit near the rear of the bus, the rider must have veered into the bus.

The rider also did not have a helmet on which seems rather strange to me. Why would anyone not wear a helmet while riding in heavy traffic. In addition, it is the rider's responsibility to keep as far to the right as possible. Maybe some greasy lawyer can get you some government money but it's just stupid riding practice to pretend you're a bus.

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOD BICYCLISTS CAN DO NO WRONG!!! They dont even need to use even a modicum of common sense!! As in, not riding your bike on a crowded road during rush hour, especially when there is a sidewalk AND the river walk to use. Better to just stick your head in the sand and DEMAND that you have Bike Rights, damn it!!

I have biked down that same area many, many times. And you know what? When i see/hear traffic behind me, i get on the side walk or i just use the river walk. I've never had a problem with cars almost hitting me because i dont live in a fantasy land where a statute gives me the power to make stupid decisions and then get mad when those decisions get me injured.

Abhishek said...


I was as far to the right as possible while avoiding a restricted area and a possible left hook into a turning lane to a driveway.
I am also not required to wear a helmet by the law...just like you are not required to produce a valid identity while commenting on a public forum by law.

Abhishek said...

I do not respond to Anonymous comments as a rule. This should explain my selective response. To some comments, I have responded via other means and they do not appear here.

Here is more information on my Comment Policy.