While growing up, most of us played the game of leapfrog. It’s a simple game where players leap over each other’s stooped backs as the line of participants move forward from back to front. I think of this game whenever I’m bicycling along the major streets of Detroit sharing curb lanes with Detroit and suburban (SMART) buses that service the city.
It goes something like this: I’ll be riding along the in the right hand lane (with traffic of course) and one of the big buses zips on by, in some cases spewing heavy diesel fumes, a pleasant smell on a hot sticky day. Just as the bus passes, it slows down, drifts into my lane just ahead of me as it prepares to stop to pick up riders. Once it goes by, I swing out to the left from behind, pass it and ease my way back into the right lane. Shortly after, the bus passes me once again, drifts into the right lane to stop. Once again, I swing out from behind, pass it and continue on my way. This game of leapfrog can go on for miles.
There are times when I think some bus drivers are purposely forcing me into the curbs or at least very close to them. They’ll roll up next to me on the left and slowly ease their way into the space I’m riding, trapping me between the curb and the side of the 40’, 30,000 lb. bus, which can be quite intimidating.
City buses seem to be the worst for this. In fact, I had had one particular driver force me into the curb twice in less than a mile. The first time, I came to a quick stop before hitting the curb, letting the bus pull over. I passed it on the left and looked at the driver and threw up my arms as if to say, “What the hell?” The driver definitely saw me before moving over. The second time was basically the same. Over to the curb I went dodging the side of the bus while it slowed down. I once again passed it and looked at the driver who was watching me with a look that said, “It’s my space!”
Shortly after the second time dodging the bus and curb, the driver once again slowed down and drifted over, but this time gave me space to pass on the right as the buses slowed to a stop. However, just I approached the front of the bus, the front door swung open just missing me. As I rode by the open door, I glanced quickly at the driver and I saw a little smirky face looking at me. I wish I had gotten that bus number.
I don’t mind playing a game of leapfrog with a bus, but I don’t like it when drivers purposely force me into dangerous situations for no particular reason.