Is it safe? Part 3: Thank you

credit: Green Chameleon via

I want to say thank you to the friends who have reached out to Parker and I after my blog about Parker's Dec 4 interaction with a U-46 school bus that left him scraped up on the pavement. Parker is physically healing just fine. But I'll out him and say that he did still nearly jump out of his skin later last week when someone honked their car horn to say hello while we were off our bikes and standing on the sidewalk in front of Arabica (quiet waving is appreciated!). 

Thanks especially to those of you who offered helpful advice as to the appropriate folks to reach out to at U-46. Parker sent the following email this evening. I have though edited out the number of the bus and also Parker's cell phone number. 

Dear Jeffrey S. Prowell,

I am writing to you in your role as Director of Transportation for School District U-46. I am a resident of Elgin and a bicycle commuter. Last Monday, December 4, I had an interaction on the street with a U-46 school bus/driver that unnecessarily and intentionally endangered my safety.

The interaction took place between 6:25 am and 6:30 am at the intersection of Chicago St and Channing St in Elgin. I arrived at the intersection as the first westbound vehicle and stopped for the red light. Soon after a U-46 school bus rolled up next to me on my left, as I had taken a secondary position in the travel lane. This bus rolled into place next to me without leaving much space between me and the bus. The next block on Chicago St was crowded with curbside parking, causing narrower travel space. Taking advantage of my relative agility on a bicycle compared to the bus, I was able to accelerate quickly on the green light, get well in front of the bus, and then slide into the secondary position in the narrower block. As soon as I got out in front of the bus, the driver began to aggressively honk the bus’s horn and then proceeded to pass me. While overtaking me, the bus closed the space between the bus and the row of curbside parked cars. As my travel space disappeared and the massive body of the bus closed in on me, I attempted an emergency stop and lost control of my bicycle. Fortunately, I fell clear of the bus and no following traffic hit me as I lay in the street. The following vehicle was a U-46 bus and looked to be surveying the scene before rolling on. The next vehicle did stop and ask if I needed help. This driver did their best to get the plates/bus number from the first bus.

This is my second time sending communication concerning an encounter of a U-46 bus not passing at safe distances on Chicago Street in the early morning. I would like to know what kinds of interventions U-46 can and will take to ensure safer interactions between buses and bicycle riders. What education and training can become a regular and integral part of both initial and ongoing training to ensure the safety of all street users is valued?

I would like to request a meeting by phone to discuss my concerns and give you the chance to respond to my questions. I have also copied Jeff King, Director of Operations, to this email, in case it would be appropriate for him to respond as well.

I have had many other positive interactions with U-46 buses and drivers as we have shared the streets. I hope that my experience on Dec 4 can be a wake up call to make the positive the standard and keep everyone safer.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Parker Thompson

I thought this was a respectful if assertive email. I'm hopeful that Jeffrey Prowell will soon be in touch with Parker in order to respond to his story and his questions. I wanted to share it with all of you to keep you updated on the situation, especially those of you who have asked if and how we planned to reach out to U-46.

I am aware too that several of you have already reached out to U-46 on your own. Thanks for taking the time to share the concerns of two-wheeled vehicles and for doing what you can to help make us all safer.

Is it safe? Maybe a caring community and respectful dialogue can make it safer.


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