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I ride the bus from home to school and vice versa approximately 3-4 times per week for an hour each time. The bus is either bi- or tri-articulated, and it can accelerate to speeds up to 80km/h.

Most of the times the bus seats are taken and the space I have for me and my backpack is 70cmx70cm. The design of the bus has multiple tubes on the roof to hold on to and your body is always either facing a chair and window (never a wall) or facing forward.

My question is, is there a standing position that is ideal to stabilize your body and not fall when the bus decelerates? I'm thinking that maybe being parallel to the side of the bus with the backpack on your chest and knees slightly bent while holding with one hand the bar is the best position. What are your thoughts?

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  • $\begingroup$ I know my bus route and when to brace for a turn, or even bend forward before it slows down. That works for me. $\endgroup$ – user108787 Aug 4 '16 at 8:14
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You specified you were looking for stability when the bus decelerates, which is probably the largest amount of acceleration you will get.

Deceleration will tend to make your center of gravity move forward (relative to the bus) while your feet stay in the same place. The way to counter this is to have one foot "well ahead of" the center of gravity - you can then transfer your weight onto that foot as the bus brakes, and thus provide the counter torque needed to stay upright.

Best illustrated with a picture:

enter image description here

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This is probably not a question to which physics can easily be applied.

A live human body does not behave like an inanimate rigid body. Your muscles flex, and your reflexes adjust automatically. Besides linear deceleration and acceleration the bus also turns and rolls. It is practically impossible to anticipate all these factors and propose the 'best position' in which to stand. In any case, such a position might be very uncomfortable to maintain throughout your journey.

In situations where there are many unknown factors, it is best to experiment with different strategies, to get an idea for what works and what doesn't in your particular bus. Also, make use of your experience to anticipate the varying demands of the journey, and vary your position accordingly, as count_to_10 implies.

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