Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bike Walk Oceanside Meets with North County Transit District

Mike Wygant (NCTD Deputy Chief of Operations, bicyclist and Oceanside resident) and Johnny Dunning (NCTD Deputy Chief of Operations) shared the following information related to bicycles and public transit within NCTD. 

1.  NCTD accommodates bicycles on all modes of public transit except the lift used for para-transit. Buses have a capacity of either 2 or 3 bicycles, depending upon the equipment. The Breeze bus line includes 161 buses that travel 6.5 million miles annually. A large number cyclists make use of those buses every weekend, he said.

(a) A primary barrier to increasing bicycle-carrying capacity of buses has been the extension of the on-bus bike rack from the footprint of the bus vehicle, for which there are legal limits that must be observed. Also of importance is the rack manufacturer’s recommendations.

2. NCTD drivers are trained to respect bicyclists as if they were cars. He cited Calif. Vehicle Code section 21750 as allowing vehicular passing of a bicyclist only when it can be done safely. Drivers are instructed that, if 3-4 feet cannot be accommodated, then they must wait to pass.

(a) Mike commented that SD County Sheriffs aren’t supportive of the sharrows lane because they believe the markings conflict with Calif. Vehicle Code sections 21202 and 21208, which he said mandates bicyclists ride as “far to the right.” Nevertheless, NCTD drivers are told to surrender the lane to the bicyclists and wait to pass them.

3. Accommodating bicycles on trains have created some disputes regarding interference with wheelchairs.

(a) The Coaster and Sprinter lines are heavily used by bicyclists, but not in the
quantities experienced on buses.

BikeWalkOceanside: Have any complaints been received from NCTD drivers about bicyclists on the roadway?

NCTD: There have been a few incidents in which bicyclists have punched windows of buses. All Breeze buses have cameras on all sides for verification of complaints and incidents. 

BikeWalkOceanside: What specific training do drivers receive, especially pertaining to wind blast hazards created by buses passing bicyclists? 

NCTD: The minimum buffer of 3-4 feet is required, with preference given to changing lanes whenever possible to avoid them. 

BikeWalkOceanside: Are there any procedures for reporting unsafe bicyclist behaviors? 

NCTD: There is NCTD's own internal reporting system, which launches an investigation of incidents. 

BikeWalkOceanside: Does NCTD driving training include education on bicyclists' right to use  the full travel lane and sharrows? 

NCTD: Yes, and instruction occurs annually and monthly. Sharrows are a regular topic of discussion during training. 

BikeWalkOceanside: How will traffic calming and lane reductions for the Pacific Coast Highway Vision Plan affect buses? 

NCTD: We don't have detailed knowledge about the Vision Plan, but roundabouts present turning radius concerns, while reverse-angle head out parking also presents challenges. 

BikeWalkOceanside: If there is a problem with buses cutting into bicyclists space when both pull to a stop at a traffic light, how can we report that? 

NCTD: Advise bicyclists to take down the vehicle (bus) number. All NCTD vehicles have multiple cameras- some with audio- so there are multiple perspectives from which to review an incidient. Bicyclists' safety is very important to NCTD. 

BikeWalkOceanside: Would NCTD be interested in one of the committee's League Certified Instructors presenting a class to staff and drivers as a guest instructor? 

NCTD: Yes, definintely interested. The NCTD meets weekly to discuss events, anticipate future issues, and general safety concerns. 

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