Island Forum | A view from the school bus: drivers, cyclists must obey the law, be visible
By STEVE RIEBE
Mercer Island Reporter Contributor
June 8, 2010 · Updated 10:05 AM
With the incident regarding Councilman Mike Grady and bicycling on Mercer Island, it seems like the right time to describe my experiences concerning the bicyclists I’ve encountered while driving as a Mercer Island school bus driver on the Island.
By law, bicyclists are supposed to follow the rules that cars follow when riding along the city streets. My route covers North Mercer both mornings and afternoons, and it is common to see bicyclists who demonstrate no awareness of this law or the safety of the children on my bus. Almost daily, they ride through the red flashing lights and stop paddle on my bus. Unfortunately, cars do this as well.
I have a hard time seeing a bicyclist coming up from behind my bus. When they choose to zip pass the stop paddle and lights, often they will pass on the right-hand side of the bus rather than go into the street — exactly where the children load and unload. The other day, two cyclists very nearly hit a tiny first-grader doing just this. They were probably going 20 to 30 miles an hour. This creates a very dangerous situation.
My top priority as a Mercer Island school bus driver is to transport the children, K-8, safely to and from school. I have tried to notify the Mercer Island Police Department, writing up cars that ignore this law, but alas, I have never heard of them citing even one on my documentation concerning this.
I believe the parents of K-8 children would be outraged by the number of bicyclists and cars that run right through a school bus flashing red light paddle if they only knew.
I would estimate on my daily route 95 percent of the bicyclists don’t slow down for a stop sign if no cars are in their way. Seventy percent will go through a red stoplight if no car appears to present a danger. Sixty percent will zip past my bus’ flashing red lights and stop paddle.
From what I have witnessed, Councilmen Grady’s actions involving a Mercer Island school bus and driver is by far the norm and not the exception.
My ultimate concern lies with the children under my protection. I am begging you for your help in this matter to keep them safe.
You only need to talk with a Mercer Island school bus driver who drives or has driven West, North or East Mercer to get more views of the bicycle problem.