Video: In Car-Bike Hit-and-Run, “Heroic” Bus Driver Saves the Day

A bus driver from Bethlehem is being lauded as folk hero in the cycling community after his quick work to prevent a would-be hit-and-run driver from fleeing the scene.

LANTA bus driver Richard Gubish, Jr. was watching in his rear view mirror when a 17-year-old driver rear-ended a local cyclist. When the driver attempted to flee the scene, Gublish acted fast to prevent escape, even inspiring other motorists to cooperate in the arrest, according to the police account of the situation:

Mr. Gubish took immediate and decisive action and positioned his bus across the lanes of the bridge, effectively blocking the path of the getaway driver. Another witness to the crash, Judson Smull, stopped to render aid to the injured Pavlick, who implored Smull to go after the offending driver to get the license plate. Smull also took immediate action, and following the lead of Mr. Gubish, positioned his car directly behind the offending vehicle, further blocking any attempt to escape.

The next person to cross the bridge was a local police officer. He apprehended the juvenile driver and charged him with violating the state’s brand new four-foot passing law, passed earlier that morning.

Here’s another interesting twist: the blogosphere credited Bethlehem’s Coalition for Appropriate Transportation for helping educate the local police force about the law. The victim, Frank Pavlick, works for the organization, helping manage the Bethlehem Bicycle cooperative. He was not badly injured.

  • Anonymous

    It may be legal to ride on that road and to take the lane but myself, I’d never ride there, it’s taking a mighty big risk. I’m glad the criminal got caught though and we need more bus drivers like that.

  • I am glad that worked out and nobody got hurt much.

  • Catafalque 1

    Arrest the guy for hit & run, sure.  But this sharing of both modalities in a single space with such great differences in speed is pure idiocy.  Bikes are too small to be seen by drivers behind view-blocking vehicles ahead of them, and when the forward vehicle moves over at — what? — 50 miles per hour, the next car also doing 50 has no option but to mow the cyclist down, especially when there is another vehicle in the next lane and the car can’t move over.  Large speed differences in the exact same location will be lethal.  Separate lane usage: Bikes in the lane to the right, motorized vehicles in the lane to the left, and a barrier between.  Wow!  As it currently stands, what stupidity.  (btw, I am all three, a cyclist, a car driver and a bus driver.)

  • steph

    Good job jud!

  • Tallycyclist

    Two thumbs up to the bus driver who prevented a hit-and-run from occurring.  I’ve personally been acquainted with Frank back when I was a student at Moravian College and am very glad that he didn’t suffer any serious injuries.  At that time the bike coalition was known as CAT and I needed some help with work on my bike.  He is so knowledgeable about cycling and such a nice guy.  I never did bike on the Fahy bridge and never will in its present configuration.  

  • Catafalque 1

    First 15 seconds, cyclist in middle of outside lane.  16-20 seconds, cyclist is slightly to left of middle of same lane; a line of 5 much-faster cars is approaching cyclist from his rear; as first car moves to inside lane to pass, each successive car suddenly sees why the first car moved to inside lane and has to slow drastically and make a collision-avoiding move to the inner lane to clear the cyclist completely, or to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the vehicle ahead, probably not realizing just yet why the driver in front of them is slowing down.  Does this arrogant cyclist have a rear-view mirror?  These 5 cars should have given him a clue as to his predicament.  For a long, long time the rule everywhere I’ve cycled (many states) is that a cyclist must keep as far right as practicable (barring such things as glass or potholes) if they are going slower than other traffic, but may take up the whole lane if they are going the same rate as traffic.  Vehicle drivers expect this behavior.  Who’s ridiculous idea was it to change this rule on a bridge with high speeds and no shoulder?

    At 25 seconds it becomes clear what happened next.  A bus is followed by a light-colored car, which is followed by a dark-colored car.  Can these cars see through the bus?  The dark car passes slower moving light car, but (not in clip) bus must have at the same time moved left to pass the cyclist, and must do so by moving completely into the inside lane because the cyclist is left-of-center in the outside lane.  Now the light car can see the cyclist so must brake (and is blocked from changing lanes by the dark car passing him).  At the same time the dark car is probably not happy a slower-moving bus has blocked his progress, and seeing that the light car has begun to slow down, creating room to travel in the outside lane, the dark vehicle then moves to the right.  The dark vehicle probably never saw the cyclist, as the steering wheel is on the car’s left in this country and the cyclist was operating to the left of lane center, pretty close to the bus.

    Had the roadway not apparently been labeled permitting cyclists full lane, and the cyclist was on the right side of the lane, the bus would have moved around enough to give 4 feet clearance to the cyclist, but not enough to give the drivers behind the idea that a full lane change was taking place.  Then the dark vehicle just might not have had any reason to move to the outside lane.

  • “charged him with violating the state’s brand new four-foot passing law” good thing they have that law, otherwise no crime was committed.

  • marcella

    2 HEROES!!

  • Sarah

    In response to other commenters: In this case where there is no shoulder, it is actually safer for the cyclist to ride in the middle of the lane, forcing motorists to pass in the other lane when it is clear. If the cyclist rides too far to the right, lots of motorists will pass too closely, thinking they can stay in the same lane and not wait for the other lane to be clear. Taking the lane is a matter of safety. I do, however, agree that the speed differentials on this street are too big to mix modalities, but as it is a bridge, the cyclist’s only other option was to walk his bike across in the ped path, and it’s not realistic (or fair) to expect that behavior. This bridge clearly needs a separated lane for cyclists or traffic calming to reduce the speed of motorists.

  • Barbara

    The speed limit on that bridge is 35 MPH.  If a car cannot stop in time to hit someone, they are going too fast or following too closely.  

  • @Catafalque 1: It’s called “tailgating.” That’s what happened. It may be an ordinary violation of proper driving, but that does not change the fact that, if you are driving so close behind the vehicle in front of you that you are unable to safely accommodate ordinary maneuvers, then you are not leaving the proper distance between your vehicle and the one ahead.

  • Miles Bader

    Good bus driver!  I would have loved to have been there to hear the stream of curses that probably came from the criminal driver as he realized his attempt to escape had been blocked.

    … and those cars following the cyclists were driving insanely close to one another.  Unfortunately that sort of dangerous driving practice seems very common in the U.S… People seem to think “oh, it’s OK, nothing will happen.”  Idiots…

  • J M

    The boy should have been charged with a hit and run in addition to the 4 foot violation.  The police were not doing their job there.

    This incident should never have been able to occur because all automotive infrastructure should be built secondary to ped and bike infrastructure.  Furthermore, automotive infrastructure should be completely separated from ped and bike infrastructure by an impenetrable physical barrier.  The architects, planners, and politicians were as much to blame for this incident as the boy driver.

  • Anonymous

    Also in that 2 lane situation, that bike guy is creating some irate drivers by having them suddenly go around him and who knows how short a fuse some of them may have had.  And was the kid hitting the bike deliberate? the kid had plenty of time to go around to the left but he hit the bike square on instead.

    Anyway bad and dangerous situation although apparently legal there. I’d have taken the ped walk to the right even if I had to walk it.

  • Anonymous

    Why is he being charged with violating the four-foot passing law instead of with actually hitting the cyclist? If you drive through a crowd of kids in a school zone and kill six of them, do they just charge you $35 for speeding?

  • Gary

    Catafalque – thanks for the second by second breakdown of the video.  However, I think you should have taken the time to read the following text from the Bethlehem PD’s video description:

    “The lanes on the north bound side of the Fahy Bridge are each 10 feet in
    width. The lanes were reduced in size due to structural problems with
    the existing walkway. PennDOT created a secondary walkway and bicycles
    are not permitted to use this area. The cyclist was in the proper lane
    position due to the lane width. In a narrow lane, the cyclist is
    permitted, and is actually safer, by taking the entire lane. A motorist
    has plenty of room to pass the cyclist in the left lane. Had the
    cyclist been in the right portion of the lane and been struck by the
    car, he would most likely have suffered far worse injuries because of
    being pushed into the concrete barrier. Before you make insensitive
    comments, regardless of how you personally feel about the right of
    cyclists to use the roadway, remember that it is another human being and
    no one deserves to be struck by a car and left in the roadway.”

  • Gary

    Catafalque – thanks for the second by second breakdown of the video.  However, I think you should have taken the time to read the following text from the Bethlehem PD’s video description:

    “The lanes on the north bound side of the Fahy Bridge are each 10 feet in
    width. The lanes were reduced in size due to structural problems with
    the existing walkway. PennDOT created a secondary walkway and bicycles
    are not permitted to use this area. The cyclist was in the proper lane
    position due to the lane width. In a narrow lane, the cyclist is
    permitted, and is actually safer, by taking the entire lane. A motorist
    has plenty of room to pass the cyclist in the left lane. Had the
    cyclist been in the right portion of the lane and been struck by the
    car, he would most likely have suffered far worse injuries because of
    being pushed into the concrete barrier. Before you make insensitive
    comments, regardless of how you personally feel about the right of
    cyclists to use the roadway, remember that it is another human being and
    no one deserves to be struck by a car and left in the roadway.”

  • Charlie

    When they created a temporary sidewalk where the shoulder used to be, they should have also removed a travel lane to create a new shoulder/bike lane. Essentially, bicycles got the short end of the stick when they (rightfully) decided that pedestrians should be able to use the bridge despite the unsafe sidewalk.

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