Research has demonstrated that the right rear wheel area of a bus presents a significant risk to cyclists and pedestrians alike. As a bicycle accident lawyer, I can unfortunately attest to the severity of the injuries which arise when a pedestrian is pulled beneath those wheels. Though it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the injured person had “no business” being by those wheels, what you may not realize is that this hazard often presents itself to cyclists and pedestrians who are completely innocent of wrongdoing. Pedestrians can trip while trying to board the bus due to hazards such as potholes, tree roots or poorly maintained sidewalks/curbs. Drivers sometimes cut corners too closely, pulling pedestrians and cyclist into the path of the right rear wheels. These are the obvious situations. I want to alert you to a less commonly known hazard and what can be done about it.
For cyclists, one of the greatest hazards produced by a bus has to do with science and the proximity with which busses typically pass us. When a large object, such as a bus, passes in close proximity to a small object, such as a cyclist, a decrease in air pressure is created which produces a force that can actually pull the smaller object towards the larger. The faster the larger object is moving, the greater this force. This is known as “Bernoulli’s principle”, and explains why a cyclist may lose control and be thrown under the path of the right rear wheels when passed closely by a bus traveling at moderate speeds.
There is, however, an easy solution. A product called the “S-1 Gard” has been developed. The main purpose of this product is to sweep a person who has fallen into the path of the busses’ rear wheels out of the way of danger. A video of this incredible product in action can be viewed here. This important, potentially life-saving product has received accolades and endorsements by government and industry safety groups, including the APTA (American Public Transit Association), the CTAA (Community Transportation Association of America), the UMA (United Motorcoach Association), the National Crash Analysis Center, and the NAPT (National Association for Pupil Transportation). It has been endorsed by major Bicycle and Pedestrian advocacy groups, including the League of American Bicyclists, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Transportation Alternatives (NYC), and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. It is currently being used on transit bus fleets around the world in major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Baltimore and Stockholm (Sweden), as well as at several international airports and theme parks. It has received the endorsement of the Transportation Safety Board as a means of reducing the risk of harm to cyclists, as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Transit Administration. Yet, to the best of my knowledge it is not currently being used by NJ Transit.
I have tried to verify: 1) Whether NJ Transit is using the guard? 2) If not, does NJ Transit have plans to install them on its buses; and, if not, why not? Unfortunately, to date I’ve had no response from NJ Transit. I, for one, would like to know the answers. How about you?