Even when they’re right, since when do bus drivers get to enforce traffic law with 22-ton vehicles?

Bike riders & pedestrians and public transit should be allies, but in Pittsburgh the Port Authority of Allegheny County (still known by an old acronym, PAT) has lost nearly all possible goodwill in the bike community because their administration apparently enforces schedules instead of safety, so their drivers prioritize getting-there-fast over driving safely. Additionally, PAT’s independent police force is so lax, some drivers apparently feel they can get away with anything—and traffic enforcement in Pittsburgh in general is so lax, some drivers apparently are beginning to think they need to do it themselves.

A couple months ago, another Pittsburgh cyclist riding on Liberty Avenue in the outer Strip District was nearly hit by a bus driver passing dangerously close. Then the driver told him “this street isn’t for bikes. you can’t ride here. You have to get on Penn and ride on a bike lane.”

Aside from being patently false—not only is there no bike lane in the area described, there is no requirement to use a bike lane even when they do exist—this driver apparently thinks they get to enforce the law on other road users by endangering their lives with 44,000-pound vehicles.

While I’ve (knock wood) never been hit, I’ve come closer to being crushed by a Pittsburgh bus than by any truck or passenger car—I’d say more of my near-incidents have been caused by PAT drivers than by any other group. Port Authority should loosen their schedules so drivers aren’t flying around congested areas at high speeds and endangering pedestrians and bikes, but they must strongly step up driver education and enforcement of red-light, pedestrian yield, and bike safety regulations, before someone gets hurt or killed…again.

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