In my experience I’ve found most bus drivers to be considerate, patient, and sensible on the roads. Which is to be expected, considering they are piloting a 10 or 20 tonne death-wagon if it were involved in even the smallest of accidents with a cyclist.
What I admire about bus drivers, is even though every day they face the constant flow of ignorant, thoughtless, and un-co-operative traffic. PLUS equally unpredictable customers inside the bus, (kids not paying their fare, unruly passengers, window scratchers & graffiti-chavs, etc). Bus drivers still drive professionally throughout their long shift.
How many times do you see busses indicating to pull out from bus-stops, while a belligerent stream of vehicles indifferently continue to overtake the bus?
All that hassle & skill for around £18,000 a year. Underpaid in my opinion. It's such a crucial public service. Considering tube drivers get £30,000+ for "driving" a highly automated tube train, on rails (reading the paper at the same time!), it is outrageous that bus driving which requires so much more skill and attention, does not currently receive the rewards this responsibility deserves.
Of course there are rare but memorable cases of bad driving. I recall an irate bus driver thrusting 20 tonnes of double-decker towards my rear wheel, attempting to intimidate me to go faster. What he forgot is that I don't have a 7.3 Litre turbocharged power-plant like him!
Bad bus drivers don't last too long in the job either, because the driver's employer has a brand image to maintain, and is in competition with other bus companies for future route franchises.
So any bad press, complaints, or reportable incidents should be taken very seriously by the bus company's HR department. And with many people owning camera-phones, a quick snap of the registration-plate / running number, and a letter to the bus company, will go against the bad driver under scrutiny.
Although there are a handful of bad bus drivers, over the thousands of urban miles I've ridden, 99.9% of all interactions I've had around buses have been fine, and despite their looming size, and sinister hiss of the air-brakes when they pull up behind me at the lights, I never feel intimidated by busses.
Bus & Bicycle, Vs Car
The routes I ride have many bus lanes, and since bikes are allowed in bus lanes, they provide a shared benefit. Making either the bus or bicycle more attractive than driving a car in these locations.
The other important benefit of course is environmental. This site cites greenhouse gases emissions per passenger km travelled: 25g for busses, 100g for an urban car.
So despite the larger, increased weight, and bigger engine of a bus which appears less-green than a car, the greater passenger occupancy means each bus user individually generates only 25% emissions of what a car-user will generate. Cycling of course ranks number 1 above all, producing zero emissions!
Busses also do wonders for congestion, because 50 people on a bus, can be 50 cars off the road, no longer wasting 10m2 of road space per car.
Put another way, the passengers on one bus would represent a traffic jam of cars, the length of an athletics track; just vanishing! Because the (ex-) car users are now all on a bus. They're probably whizzing down a priority bus lane too...