36

In Greece, where I am from, we don't have bicycles as a means of going to work, like for example in Germany (what a paradox given the weather!), the country I visit now.

So, there are bicycle lanes on the pavement, to the side of the street. When the bus stops, you disembark right in a bicycle land. Is there a rule to who has priority? The passenger or the rider?

I would expect the riders to be aware that a passenger is about to disembark, and thus slow down or slide, regardless of any rule. However, currently I find myself looking across both directions before disembarking, since I am mostly afraid of the high speed e-bicycles, something that if I have priority, may frustrate the others behind me.

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    Where you're not aware of the law, a good rule of thumb is that faster traffic should yield to slower traffic, since faster traffic has more potential to cause injury. Even if a pedestrian is illegally crossing in the middle of a busy street, it doesn't give drivers the right to hit him. – Kyralessa Jul 5 at 6:30
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    why a paradox? Greek weather is terrible to cycle in. Nobody wants to cycle on 35 degrees, get sunburned and sweat like a pig. – Travel guy Jul 6 at 10:21
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    "I would expect the riders to be aware..." -- you should not. Bicyclists are notorious for violating traffic rules. You should not assume they'll stop on a red traffic light, you should not assume they'll not ride on the pedestrian walk (children up to 11 years have to, but otherwise it's forbidden). And no, you shouldn't assume they won't run into you getting off the bus, and then swear at you for "not being careful". There's no license plate on a bike, so the risk of being caught is low. The irony is that if as car driver, you kill one of them ignoring a red light, it's your fault. – Damon Jul 7 at 15:22
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    @Damon It depends on your country. If you're speaking of the US, I would agree with you. Over here in Germany and Switzerland, most cyclists appear to obey the traffic laws, from what I've seen. The traffic laws are also much more accommodating to cyclists: some one-way streets allow both directions for cyclists; there are bicycle-only traffic lights; there are lots of bike paths with appropriate yield signs at crossings for either the bicycles or the cars. Perhaps lack of this accommodation in the US accounts for cyclists' behavior there. – Kyralessa Jul 10 at 8:49
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    @Damon, well, I live down in the corner of Germany near Basel. Perhaps down here cyclists are more polite. Maybe it's the Swiss influence. :D – Kyralessa Jul 10 at 17:12
59

The bicycle riders have to be careful and wait if necessary.

Here is a German newspaper article on the subject. The basis for the rule is § 20 of the German traffic regulations (StVO), whose first two paragraphs translate roughly to:

(1) Busses, trams, and school busses, which stop at designated stopping points (sign number 224), may only be passed with care.

(2) When bus riders embark or disembark, the bus can only be passed on the right at walking speed and at a distance that excludes the possibility of endangering passengers. It is also forbidden to obstruct them. If needed, one has to wait.

Note that walking speed is defined to be 3-6 km/h. Overtaking a bus on the left is a bit different - the rules then depend on whether the warning lights are flashing or not.

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    Is this different if there is a dedicated platform area between the bike lane and the bus? – Henning Makholm Jul 4 at 14:14
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    What the law says is right, and what good health and safety practice demands, are often two different things: In cases where riders are supposed to yield by law, it is still good practice to assume they might not, and to pay attention. Being 'in the right' does not help mend broken bones. – TheLuckless Jul 4 at 21:58
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    @gerrit What do you mean by "should not be flashing"? Busses with flashing warning lights have privilege, see §20 StVO (3) and (4). (Although I admit that especially oncoming traffic is notorious for ignoring this regulation.) – Dubu Jul 5 at 7:48
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    @gerrit: In addition to what Dubu explained: buses flashing warning lights is reserved for stops with particular dangers. And it's not up to the bus driver to decide this, this is a decision by the Land. This is somewhat rare outside school bus routes. – cbeleites Jul 5 at 16:02
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    @Dubu Ok, I have never seen this and was not aware it existed outside the USA (I've only ever seen buses indicating left or right; I've only seen them flashing when broken down) – gerrit Jul 5 at 18:52
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German traffic code gives transit passengers special priority, all traffic including bicycles may only pass the vehicle on the right at a walking pace and need to yield to passengers alighting or embarking.

(From a detailed explanation this website [in German].)

10

Being a cyclist as well as a bus user, I always expect the user of the other mode of traffic to not be aware of what is going on at the street.

Where the bus stop is right at the bike lane, so the people step out of the bus in front of the cyclists, you have to slow down when there is a bus there and stop before the doors open, as the people will need to get out of the bus efficiently. (But as a bus passenger, still look for cyclist as there is always the 'nasty word here' that ignores the facts.)

If there is a little of a platform between the bus and the cycle path, it is less risky to step out of the bus and away from the door and not be hit by the cyclists.
But as a cyclist you should still give way to people getting out of the bus and walking toward the (stopped) bus. See the other answers for (the link to) the legal texts.

4

Generally speaking, bicycles are classed as vehicles. And generally, vehicles must yield to pedestrians doing normal pedestrian things that they are entitled to do, like use a bus stop. So the pecking order is

Boats > Trains > Pedestrians > Bicycles > Motor Vehicles

  • Drawbridges know large boats are coming, and have plenty of time to signal trains to get stopped
  • Trains cannot stop, so peds and vehicles MUST wait
  • Vehicles must yield to pedestrians anywhere pedestrians belong
  • Bicycles are legitimate traffic and share roads with motor vehicles, except they have priority in bike lanes obviously. Laws favor bicycles because physics does not.
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    Dangerous assumption that other traffic must yield to pedestrians. In most cases that is not true. And pedestrians are the weakest and most easily damaged in accidents. – Willeke Jul 5 at 4:21
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    @Willeke A car never has the right to hit a pedestrian, no matter how illegally the pedestrian is crossing. But the pedestrian can certainly be subject to a fine for crossing illegally. I hope that clears things up. – Kyralessa Jul 5 at 8:43
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    @Kyralessa Not necessarily. I am very familiar with a story of a particular pedestrian who was hit by a speeding car while crossing a street in the US, broke the car's windshield and was briefly on top of the car, and the driver left before police arrived. The pedestrian was permanently injured. Police refused to do any investigation because the car driver did in practice have the right to hit the pedestrian. The US has a very car-centric culture, giving drivers more rights than in other countries. – WBT Jul 5 at 12:59
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    @WBT [citation needed]. A car never has the "right" to hit a pedestrian. The police may decide (or a judge may) that hitting the pedestrian was unavoidable, but that doesn't mean hitting a pedestrian is somehow the right thing to do. – Kyralessa Jul 5 at 13:08
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    Lets agree to disagree. – Willeke Jul 5 at 14:40
1

I rode bicycles for 10 years earlier in my life as my primary mode of transportation a long while ago, and pedestrians always have the right of way over any other conveyance.

And, the purpose is that... any other kind of conveyance could cause more damage. A bike rider, a skate boarder, a car, a motorcycle.. all of those things are potentially moving faster and have more mass, and thus could cause more damage.. especially to someone who may not be physically capable of moving fast enough out of the way (eg: an elderly pedestrian).

That being said... I have also ridden motorcycles for 10 years, and here's the order of operation I mentally follow every time I ride in order to keep myself alive..

1) larger object (that has more mass and could do more damage to me) has the right of way.. every time, even if they're breaking the law

2) if I have to break the law to save my life, I will

3) obey laws if possible

So, if a truck is changing lanes into me illegally while not looking... I get out of their way. I would rather be alive while watching them break the law then be dead or in a hospital bed having my wife argue about how the other person broke the law and I had the right of way.

So, as a pedestrian.. you would have the right of way getting off the bus, but assume idiots all around you are not paying attention and / or don't know the law and can potentially kill you.

Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety.

  • Sure, defensive behavior is always recommended, thanks! – gsamaras Jul 5 at 19:05

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