Apparently fed up with rampant bus lane violations, an unidentified woman took the initiative last week and inspired equal parts of praise and outraged driver entitlement. She also inspired the Greenways movement to run a similar event Monday, which Heidi Groover covered ($).
Grasping the spirit of the moment, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff called them “heroes“. The organs of Seattle city government definitely did not:
SPD spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said frustrated transit riders should channel their feelings into “more productive’ efforts like lobbying lawmakers to allow camera enforcement. Whitcomb said bus-lane enforcement is “a regular area of focus’ for traffic officers but stationing officers on crowded downtown streets during rush hour can worsen congestion.
The city establishment feels the pressure to fix the bus lane problem and does what they do best — deflect blame to Olympia. Lobbying may or may not make things better eventually, but the bravery this week improved some bus commutes immediately.
Meanwhile, there are things the city should be doing to make bus lane compliance better right now. First of all, simplify the rules to make the lanes 24 hour and paint them red. This will reduce confusion and inadvertent violations.
Secondly, although automated enforcement has some advantages over using police, the human version appears to work in Vancouver, Chicago, and Washington DC. SPD may be concerned about “congestion” (read: inconvenience for cars) but it’s easy enough to pull over violators into something not a bus lane if we’re ready to truly prioritize transit.
While I wouldn’t pressure anyone to insert themselves into a potentially dangerous situation, this courage on behalf of the greater good should be recognized for what it is. Rogoff had it right.