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June 03, 2016

Local bike coalition: Cyclist's reaction during SEPTA bus standoff likely 'overblown'

Transportation Biking
060316_busbike Michael Kay/Facebook

A bicyclist got into a confrontation Wednesday with a SEPTA bus driver at 13th and Locust streets. According to an observer, the man on the bike felt the driver was following too closely, so he stopped his bicycle and blocked the bus. A police officer on a Segway responded to the standoff.

A local group working to make bicycling in the city safer has weighed in on the recent confrontation between a cyclist and a bus driver that disrupted rush-hour traffic last week.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia published its observations Friday, concluding "the cyclist’s final reaction seems a bit overblown."

The incident occurred May 25 when a man on a bike blocked a SEPTA bus for about an hour on Locust Street near 13th during rush hour.

Initially, a Facebook post by Matthew Kay, a high school teacher in Philadelphia, set the scene: “So this man decided that this SEPTA bus was tailgating him too close as he rode his bike. Proceeded to stand in front of a packed bus for over an hour like 13th and Locust was Tiananmen Square”

SEPTA reviewed on-board surveillance videos, eventually releasing the recordings to PhillyVoice, and determined that the bus driver did nothing wrong.

“There was no reason for this to have taken place,” said Carla Showell-Lee, SEPTA’s chief spokesperson. “Unfortunately, it did disrupt mass transit.”

Now, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has weighed in on the matter.

The group acknowledged that as the bus passed the cyclist, the distance between the two was close to the legal requirement of four feet. The cyclist's intentions in the video were not clear because the cyclist did not use hand signals. However, the bus driver should have treated the cyclist as a legal vehicle since the street did not have a bike lane so the cyclist had the right to move in front of the bus.

Finally, the group felt that "if this is really the extent of the interaction between the cyclist and the bus, the cyclist’s final reaction seems a bit overblown."

The cyclist still has not been identified.

Promoting safety, the group shared the latest rules and responsibilities of the road and hopes the incident will serve as a "learning moment for all road users."