Cars blocking crosswalk — still shot from Rooted in Rights video

In the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in “preemption” laws, whereby conservative states try to clip the wings of their liberal cities.  Examples in the Trump era include banning cities from increasing their minimum wage or acting as immigrant “sanctuary cities.”  Of the national preemption laws tracked by the progressive Partnership for Working Families, Washington State only bans rent control (and even that one is up for debate right now).  

Preemption is not inherently bad — federal preemption is an important part of the constitution! — but many of these bills simply seek to impose Republican cultural norms on Democratic cities, like removing voting rights or preventing firearm bans. While Washington does relatively little of this kind of preemption, the fight over HB1793 – automatic bus lane enforcement – shows that the desire to impose cultural norms is alive and well. 

Last year, HB 1793 passed the state House, after much gnashing of teeth, and ran out of time in the Senate.  A slimmed-down version of the automatic bus lane enforcement bill has been re-introduced this session and passed the house Thursday.   In response to last year’s defeat, the fines have been lowered and the state is insisting on getting a taste of the funds.

Unlike new taxing authority or other issues that might reasonably necessitate state control, there’s little risk to Olympia in permitting enforcement cameras: if the voters of Seattle really don’t like it, they can seek remedy from the city council.

This is a short legislative session, so the Senate may choose to punt on the bill again.  That would be unfortunate. The city has put together a remarkably broad coalition: city council, the mayor, the police and fire departments, transit advocates, disability rights groups, the ACLU, and even the Seattle Times Editorial BoardNot even the Seahawks bring this many people together.

So if it’s not about logic, or popularity, or anti-democratic harm, what’s it about?  As skeptical legislators start to voice increasingly baroque objections, they sound more like the Florida legislature banning cities from regulating firearms or Indiana banning higher minimum wages: a way to force rural values (in our case, the primacy of the private auto) on an engaged urban population.

Contact your State Senator today.  Let’s pass this thing already.

63 Replies to “The fight over bus lane enforcement is about cultural norms”

  1. Once again, conservatives add no benefit to society and only put laws on the books so that other people they don’t like will suffer.

    1. States’ Rights is one of the fundamental principles of conservatism. We had a civil war (in part) over this! You would think they would extend the same freedoms to local governments for things that are none of the State’s damn business. What better way to decentralize “big government” influence over our lives, right? You vote with your feet if you don’t like it. Unfortunately, modern “conservatism” is more about identity politics and culture wars than the fundamental principles of maximum freedom and limiting the reach of big government. I actually miss the “old school” conservatism. (Or at least, the brand of conservatism I thought I grew up with).

    2. There are several different things called conservatism, and they can lead to contradictory conclusions. Historically it means favoring incremental reforms over radical revolution. That’s what our founding fathers believed and why we turned out different from the French or Russian Revolutions. Incremental reforms can still include universal housing and a universal basic income and a move away from fossil fuels if society leans that way. It didn’t in the 1700s but they wouldn’t be categorically against them forever; they’d just want proof it’s a real society consensus rather than an extreme fad. A second kind of conservatism is the landowning class as opposed to the working class. That was the Tories of old vs the Whigs.

      A third kind of conservatism emerged in the mid 20th century in opposition to the Civil Rights Act and merged with the opponents of the New Deal and sometimes other factions (the religious right and neoconservatives/foreign interventionists). This is usually called “movement conservative” for want of a better name, and is what Brandon calls modern conservatism. The important point is it’s not the only kind of conservatism, nor the original.

  2. What you’re going to find, specifically in Seattle, are challenges associated with adopting automated enforcement and the “Surveillance Ordinance.” It’s one thing to get this legalized in the state, but what are the challenges and steps needed for these new automated enforcement technologies to pass through the Surveillance Impact Reports, public hearings and council approval/concurrence?

    1. From the article:

      The city has put together a remarkably broad coalition: city council, the mayor, the police and fire departments, transit advocates, disability rights groups, the ACLU, and even the Seattle Times Editorial Board.

      Sounds like they are already working on it (building the type of coalition to address your concerns). It is not clear whether this even falls under Surveillance Impact Report, since this isn’t exactly new technology. Fundamentally it is no different than red light cameras. You break the law (according to the machine) then you get a ticket. I would say it isn’t that different than tolling (if you are in that lane, you get charged).

      1. > Fundamentally it is no different than red light cameras.

        That is the opposite of a selling point! Red light cameras were a bad idea. Automated, profit-driven, surveillance-based law enforcement is not the kind of society I want to live in.

      2. I would love to live in a society of automated law enforcement which catches every lawbreaker equally without bias.

    2. CharlotteRoyal is right: it’s important to understand the role of the ACLU in this legislation’s failure to date.

      1. What? The ACLU now supports this bill — are you saying that the ACLU will support (and help draft) the bill at the state level, and then oppose it at the local level? That makes no sense.

      2. The ACLU didn’t favor last year’s bill. While not the only opposition group, I believe they were instrumental.

      3. Support or not oppose? If they had their concerns addressed and then quietly stopped talking about the bill, it leaves the impression with legislators that they continue to be opposed.

        They could also testify “with concerns” without being listed as “oppose”.

      4. From the referenced article (not this article) this time:

        TCC and Rooted in Rights have worked with the ACLU of Washington to draft a policy that achieves the goals of this legislation while protecting vulnerable communities. The new legislation is a two-year pilot for downtown Seattle and includes a grace period where folks get cited with a warning.

        Again, they are working with the ACLU, and other human rights group to *draft* the legislation. That not only implies acceptance, but support. Otherwise, they wouldn’t agree to it.

        Saying “OK, sure, that looks good”, and then trying to kill it at the local level would not only be a stupid strategy for this legislation, but it would destroy their ability to negotiate in the future (no one would ever trust them).

      5. Regardless of the evolution of ACLU’s stance, the vote tally in the House this year was almost identical to last year’s.

      6. Regardless of the evolution of ACLU’s stance, the vote tally in the House this year was almost identical to last year’s.

        Which has nothing to do with the argument made on this thread. Really, if you want to make an argument, go ahead. Talk shit about the ACLU. Talk shit about the pinhead state representatives. Be my guest. But my point is that it is absolutely nonsensical to believe that the ACLU would craft a bill at the statewide level, only to fight the implementation of a local law based on that statute. Sorry, no organization — certainly not one like the ACLU — would ever take that tactic. That would be stupid.

    3. Why is it a “Civil Liberty” to drive in a bus lane. What an arrogant belch of autoista clap-trap. Is it a “Civil Liberty” to block cross-walks as illustrated in the headline photo as well?

      I drive a car around town occasionally though I always try to plan well enough to walk or use transit by preference and a sense of responsibility. But it’s getting harder and harder as effyouseeking autoistas encroach on the public space supposedly reserved for pedestrians in ever more aggressive ways.

      And people are dying as a result. If the ACLU is helping to block this because a bunch of scoff-laws complain about their license plate being recorded doing something illegal, then the ACLU has lost its way.

      1. From kindergarten when I started loving the Chicago ‘El, never liked “Government by Punishment”. In 1956 public schools, also called First Grade. And given who-all else can “draw a bead” on me with evidence bought or stolen from anybody’s cameras nowadays, am with the ACLU against metastasizing surveillance.

        Though consumer-technology has probably rendered this one hopeless- have watched twelve-year-olds grinning over their smart phones at me as they send viral my serious pro-transit conversations with their dads on Sounder.

        Lifelong will also always preface “Libertarian” with “so-called”. Hundred percent it means the freedom of the rich and the powerful to keep everybody else under their squeaky-tight control.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOZGH0_0cYQ

        Verse could be sung either “liberty” or “property” to describe what slavers were defending their right to do and to whom. Sadly easier to sing than our present National Anthem.

        For me, transit priority certainly is about my freedom. Of personal mobility itself. And my right to protect my property from the damage stop-and-go, or stopped-where-exposed- driving inflicts on my car.

        Tempted to advocate daily alternating lane status between cars-only, mixed traffic, and transit-only, just to help people make up their minds. Though meantime, let’s just make whole streets permanently transit-only and let the police do their best.

        When are current set of maxed-stress days over? Wouldn’t beat a live horse either, but just for self-respect, transit community shouldn’t let the Convention Center cultural community forget how much they owe us for the preemptory loss of DSTT bus service.

        Mark Dublin

      2. I don’t mind a system that records license plates when something illegal is happening, mails the violator a ticket, and deletes the record from the database once the ticket is paid.

        I do mind a system that records all license plates it sees (whether the driver is illegally using the bus lane or not) and stores this information indefinitely.

        I appreciate that there’s a group trying to make sure that the systems in place resemble the former more than the latter.

      3. Eric, I agree with most of the constraints you specified, except the “delete” operation. If a record is not kept, escalating fines cannot be levied against the genuine scofflaws who believe their convenience trumps (no pun intended) everyone else’s, and they should be levied.

        Why would a camera mounted on a bus, facing forward and only active when the bus is in a bus lane be “record[ing] all license plates it sees”? That’s the only sort of camera that will really make a difference, and that’s what San Francisco found does speed buses up to 17%. That is TENS of MILLIONS of dollars in saved bus hours per year.

  3. There is a pretty extreme example of preemption: tax law. Local governments seem to have little capability to institute or raise taxes without a state law providing permission to do so. I-976 is mostly about preemption. If only Snohomish County could disannex Eyman’s house…

    I believe there is a small fee, small enough that it doesn’t even bring the MVET up to the 2020 equivalent of 1999 $30, that rural voters might have been happily voting to remove. I’m not convinced they were motivated en masse by any notion of removing power for Seattle or Sound Transit District voters to tax themselves.

    Eyman campaigned against ST, while trying to hide the fact that other local governments would pay the price. And yet, ST district voters voted against 976 by a larger margin than they passed ST3.

    One could conclude that the MVET might be the most popular of ST’s three main tax revenue sources. We don’t know, unless ST district voters vote straight-up on just property tax or sales tax (or statewide voters vote on preempting local sales and property taxes, but I hate to give Eyman any ideas).

    One might also conclude that I-976 could have gotten more votes if Eyman were not obsessed with Sound Transit. Who knows?

    We do know that several swing districts legislators who antagonized Sound Transit, and even a lefty state senator who campaigned against ST3, lost their re-election bids in 2018. One could say that was part of the Blue Wave that year, but that wouldn’t explain the lefty senator’s defeat to a fellow lefty challenger who was generally supportive of Sound Transit (and who hasn’t signed onto Liias’ bill to reduces ST’s MVET).

    1. I-976 is also more of a cultural issue than a financial issue. Its bulk of support are those who are ideologically opposed to taxes, especially taxes on SOVs (“the symbol of American freedom” as Rush Limbaugh called it). There were people with financial anxiety who voted for it because of their $200+ bills but could be persuaded to vote the other way if they believed it were essential, but those were more add-on votes rather than the core of support.

  4. On the specifics of HB 1793, I don’t think disallowing the City from profiting off of lane enforcement necessarily reduces the quality of outcome from the enforcement program. Indeed, one can argue that if the City applied a profit motive to the program, it would have an incentive to get lots of drivers to accidentally end up in bus lanes in order to collect the fine revenue.

    At any rate, I hope the City is allowed to apply the fine revenue to the City’s administrative costs, and that a workable comprimise would be to put a low cap on the City’s profit, so the program doesn’t get disincentivized out of happening.

    Or more directly, just require red paint in the enforced lanes, and forget about convoluted accounting to figure out what the state’s piece of the action is.

  5. Not to further disagree with the culture war hypothesis, but there were several urbanisty candidates for city council last year who got the traffic cam questions at the transportation fora wrong. If candidates for public office don’t understand the issue, I can’t blame the general public for understanding it even less. State senators have less of an excuse now.

  6. Let me see if I understand what a preemption law is. Is that like when Oregon banned single-family zoning to force urban values on conservative populations?

      1. I was simply flipping around what Frank said, when he said, ” … a way to force rural values (in our case, the primacy of the private auto) on an engaged urban population.” Mark, you should be questioning what he meant by rural values. Because, if you’re arguing there are no urban values, then that means there are no rural values. I’ll await your question to Frank to see his response.

        Sam. Now with over 198 million daily readers in over 74 countries.

    1. Yes, that’s one of the few cases where a state imposed an urban-friendly and non-exclusionary requirement, that increased freedom rather than reduced it. Most of them are about preventing municipalities from building municipal Internet networks that compete with private providers, or banning sanctuary cities, or banning rent control, etc.

    2. OP himself says preemption isn’t bad. In the case of zoning preemption, it took a housing crises to prompt that preemption. Preempting single family zoning in cities is a very viable way to increase housing supply. Can I assume you don’t doubt the severity of the housing crises? Zoning is about far more than culture, so the comparison of zoning and camera enforcement is weak.

      But solid troll. I had to think

      1. Yes of course. I’m all for state preemtion to ban single-family zoning. Zoning came out of private covenants, which started in the 1880s to exclude the working class and minorities from new housing developments. Zoning came along in the early 1900s to standardize it across the city. People say it was mainly to keep polluting factories away from housing, but they could have done that with public-health laws. There was also a fashion in the mid 20th century called “euclidean zoning” to separate areas according to kind (houses, apartments, retail, theater, government) — this is what forced people to drive to things that previously they walked to and had a mix in one neighborhood. But the most salient feature of zoning is exclusion. That’s intolerable when there’s a housing shortage and affordability is rapidly creeping up the income scale.

    3. @Sam: I thought that bringing the freedom to build anything anywhere would be regarded as a Republican value.

      Restricting the free market is supposed to be more of a socialist thing, right?

    1. … Democrat Speaker of the House. Democrat President of the Senate. Democrat Lieutenant Governor. Democrat Governor. Democrat State Attorney General. Two Democrat US Senators. Democrat King County Executive. Democrat Seattle Mayor. Democrat Seattle City Council.

      But, I’m supposed to believe Republicans control everything in our state?

      1. Sam, Democratic doesn’t mean crap.
        Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders.
        Nancy Pelosi. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
        New Democrats. Democratic Socialists of America.
        Pro-business. Pro-human being.

    2. No, you’re supposed to believe that democratic control of the senate was only solid this term. Before that one chamber had a Republican majority, or one or two congresspeople crossed over to caucus with the Republicans thus negating the majority, or some of the Democratic chairmen were weak on transit despite their party affiliation this nullifying any potential for reforms. It’s only this session that we’ve had a solid Democratic majority that was able to do anything, and who knows whether that will last next term? The large cities have been more solidly Democratic or have been moving in that direction.

  7. I see the main issue of automated enforcement to be the practical nature of having fines issued automatically in a porous and ever-changing urban environment. It’s the same set of issues one would see with pedestrian enforcement of no-crossing zones or stepping off sidewalks in a porous urban environment. While there are certainly flagrant law breakers, most violations would likely be situational — even merely swerving a foot or two to miss a pothole! It’s also more problematic because there is no way for a driver visually assure that their vehicle hasn’t entered the lane enough to earn a violation.

    It may have applicability in more non-porous situations like MLK light rail tracks. It’s dangerous and sometimes fatal to experience a train collision. Deterring train-car collisions by training drivers about the dangers of tracks seems more than reasonable.

    I could also see situations with a Taxi or Uber/Lyft driver getting penalized for honoring a fare’s request to hop out prematurely.

    Calling this “cultural” seems wrong and offensive to me, and unnecessarily promotes hostility and divisiveness. Situational issues are not cultural! It’s playing into a “we” versus “them” mentality, and divisiveness with majority will is the last thing we need in our current political environment.

    1. I’ll even add that things like rumble strips and bumps or small dimes to delineate bus lanes should be installed first. I don’t see agencies doing this very much. Without any obvious pavement warning, it would be the same thing as getting a speeding ticket without a speedometer, or enforcing a paid fare area with inadequate signage on where the boundary is.

      1. Oh, c’mon, Al. It’s not a “points” offense. The fine is modest. If the vehicle is two feet or twelve feet into the lane a bus can’t pass it safely.

        It’s fine to make cities cough up for red paint so that it’s nearly impossible to miss that “Hey, there’s something different about this lane!” for people from out of town. That’s justifiable. But quit excusing what is usually egregious selfishness, entitled rudeness, or reactionary mulishness.

      2. I see faded bicycle lane and crosswalk striping all over Seattle. Even the red and green paint are fading or rubbing off. Striping is simply not good enough unless we are doing a better job at striping maintenance — even if it’s a no-point fine.

        My larger point is that the issue is much more situational than cultural. It doesn’t matter how severe the penalty is. Hostility about that just demonstrates one’s lack of a logical perspective and a buy-in to personal meanness.

      3. I will take that slam of “personal meanness” proudly when the “victims” of my “meanness” are clueless and/or selfish autoistas.

        You don’t scare me by bleating “Oh, it’s not right for liberals to punish people.” Or whatever your particular reason for excusing drivers’ behavior is.

      4. Last I looked through the bill, the first time you get caught in the bus lane is a warning. That makes it a lot less mean to those who don’t know what red paint means. And if there is no red paint, I don’t think cameras should be allowed.

      5. Me: “It’s fine to make cities cough up for red paint so that it’s nearly impossible to miss that “Hey, there’s something different about this lane!” for people from out of town. That’s justifiable.”

        Brent: “Last I looked through the bill, the first time you get caught in the bus lane is a warning. That makes it a lot less mean to those who don’t know what red paint means. And if there is no red paint, I don’t think cameras should be allowed.”

        How is this different? If the Red paint is coming off as Al says, then dedicate the fine money to new paint every year. And somehow be sure it’s non-toxic to the fish.

        Whatever. Just do this, and mount them on the buses, NOT on poles that drivers can learn to avoid. It’s the only thing that really works.

      6. OK, yes it is different because the bill gives people a warning opportunity. But that means that records DO have to be kept so that the warning opportunity is possible. Eric — and apparently the ACLU — is/are against keeping records which makes letting people off once infeasible.

        MOST of the people in the Battery Street bus lane are daily commuters from North King or Snohomish counties, not poor wayward wheat farmers from Steptoe visiting Paree on the Sound for the first time.

    2. Camera enforcement of pedestrian traffic isn’t analogous to camera enforcement of motor vehicles. Pedestrians can legally obscure their likeness with sunglasses, masks, dazzle camouflage makeup, and even electronic systems. Cars can’t legally obscure their license plates.

      1. And who cares whether one is on Candid Camera. Maybe just give the finger to the Goobers watching the feed.

      2. Cars have an order of magnitude greater impact than pedestrians. Cars take up more space and can kill pedestrians. Therefore we require driver’s licences and car registraton to identify cars in illegal locations. A pedestrian walking can’t kill a car, so we don’t worry as much about being photo-identifiable by surveillance cameras. If a pedestrian is in the red lane, they may hold up the bus, but it’s very unusual because if the bus can’t stop in time they’ll be flattened like a pancake.

    3. I’m not completely satisfied with automated ticket-issuers that may be wrong and there’s no way to contest them, but on the other hand we need something, and it’s not practical to have a policeman standing on every corner all day. We need to do something to get real transit priority, and if physically separated lanes aren’t feasible and this is the most effective alternative, then let’s do it.

  8. Ohhhhh-Kay! Now give us an example of a “rural” value. Right to continue demanding that my tax money pay the expenses of a part of the State that hates me?

    Anybody got a decibel-meter to compare the wailing levels between Washington’s two divisions? Can’t afford pollsters, but one of my own “values” is the existence of the State of Washington, confident that it’s worth however much extra taxes it costs me.

    Definite sign of fiscal irresponsibility, but have always really considered living in the same State with Marblemount, Olympia, Hoodsport, and Metalline Falls to be worth 47 years’ extra tax expense. But out of the manners God gave a groundhog, would like my own leaders to start going on record insisting that the last two letters stop getting left off the name of our party.

    Pretty sure the Second Amendment was drafted by people who believed that those who can’t spell can’t govern either.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The ban on labeling milk as not containing BGH was pushed through primarily by rural interests (even if most rural voters, when asked, are either unaware it happened or, when made aware of it, appalled that such a violation of the First Amendment occurred and that they are drinking ingredients they wish they had known about).

      The end result was a rapid growth in demand for various types of plant-based milk and a downturn in demand for dairy products, pushed by vegan activists doubling down on educating the public that the meat and dairy industry are essentially one and the same. The evil-doers who passed the bill may have helped save life on Earth, unintentionally.

      That little bit of culture war came from a tiny portion of the population that had the ear of enough Congressmembers who agreed with the idea, violation of the First Amendment notwithstanding. The response was driven by another tiny, but equally adamant, portion of the population. But in the end, one side just bought Congressmembers, while the other side engaged in a public culture war against the dairy industry. You’ve all seen some of the urban-targeted ads in light rail stations.

      I happen to be one of the people who stopped drinking cow milk when the BGH-free-labelling ban was passed. I didn’t go full vegan until there were enough vegan staples on Safeway shelves for me to realize it was feasible. It was the the realization that Franz has been making several kinds of vegan bread loaves for years, and baking them on equipment dedicated to just the vegan loaves. Somewhere along the way, Safeway really stepped up its game to cater to vegan consumers, to the point that they are now putting “gluten-free”, “organic”, “local”, “vegetarian”, and “vegan” labels all over their shelves.

      While those wishing everyone would go vegan will never win that culture war, those wanting to merely have the ability to keep BGH out of their diet certainly won in the long run.

      Moral of the story: Laws don’t automatically decide the winner in culture wars.

  9. Even though I don’t agree with some of the opinions or conclusions in this post, I commend Frank for having an opinion. The one thing that would have helped this post is an interview with a gatekeeper of cultural norms.

    1. He did interview gatekeepers of cultural norms. He asked the rest of the STB staff, who are all social media influencers, what they thought. And then he published the post anyway.

  10. A job-description with a lot of sudden world-wide vacancies this year, Sam. To me, probably generational, not so much by birth year, but by personal experience. Likely worst damage is to Government world-wide, is a professional generation forced by command or plain disgust into retiring early.

    And replaced by either nobody or somebody of much less competence or wisdom-grade experience. Too often, deliberately. And conversely, millions of people a couple of years below previous hiring-age being forced into work that their character deserves, but for which their years leave them frighteningly unprepared.

    Our hope is that Nature herself, and at its core every religion on Earth, contains a remedy. “Golden” an understatement. What you don’t want somebody else to do to you, don’t do it to anybody else.

    Whole current overuse of the word “culture” is a bad gift from contemporary media, because it loves to pick fights and so writes off every try at compromise or cooperation. For me, the greater my affection for my car, the more I want to keep it out of traffic. And assure everybody else of the right to the same.

    And also: Best thing about STB is swift [OT].

    Mark

    1. Don’t worry Mark. We’re sometimes asleep at the wheel when the post is about light rail operations and you are reminiscing about World War II.

      1. The industry only started saying “light rail” in, like 1972. The PCC was a streetcar, and the Electroliner – interurban. Appreciate the edits. Only way to sharpen a blade is to remove material.

        But also, would like guidance in using the past mainly for possible pertinence to present and above all, the future. Every once in a while, invention of a new process or material can finally make something workable.

        Also- lifetime of experience and education teaches me that, blanket, if it’s boring it’s wrong.

        Mark

  11. The consistency of enforcement matters much more than having a very large fine. Hence why people routinely speed despite the fine technically being several hundred dollars. I’m not too worried about the fine being reduced relative to previous bills.

  12. As a Cultural Psychologist, please explain your usage of the verbiage “Republican Cultural Norms” in regards to bus lane enforcement. What specifically are you attributing as a cultural norm towards a Republican within the confines the state house bill?

    1. It’s an emerging norm so the relationship may not be clear or it may be premature. The vast majority of society supports car supremacy so many Democrats do too, and it was split legislatures and Democratic committee leaders who blocked this camera enforcement for years. And when car supremacy was established in the early 20th century there were fewer cultural differences between the parties — those differences went across party lines.

      But over the past thirty years the parties have been getting more and more differentiated along cultural lines. This can be explained as a few activists and media personalities pushing one party to an extreme, the adherents of that issue joining that party, and the opponents of that issue concentrating in the other party, often for self-defense.

      Bus lanes is one of those issues. While it’s true that many Democratic legislators participated in blocking bus-lane cameras for years, and many Democratic neighborhoods block converting parking lanes and GP lanes to transit-priority lanes, it has become a rallying cry on the right more than the left. It was Rush Limbaugh who said gas-guzzling SUVs are “a symbol of American freedom” and superiority. It was people like him who invented this “War on cars” mantra, which is what motivates this opposition to bus-lane cameras, converting parking lanes to transit-priority lanes, raising the gas tax, applying sales tax to gas, and car tabs above $30. Democrats have some of these beliefs, but as a group they are not as likely to introduce a law or initiative to make it ironclad enforced.

  13. If I’m confused, and drive over the SR 520 bridge, I pay a fee. There is no escaping it. I can’t explain to the friendly officer that I’m from out of town, and obviously white, so I should be able to just drive over the bridge for free. Nope. I pay a fine. A hefty one, I might add. Oh wait, not a fine, a “fee”. Oh heaven’s, that makes a huge difference. Maybe, like the HOV lane situation, the first one is free. That’s the case, right?

    Good God, the folks pushing this bill are amateurs. Treat it like a toll. It really isn’t that complicated. You drive in that lane, there is a toll. Between the hours of 3:00 AM and 3:15, the toll is only $2.00. The rest of the time it is $20. Or $50. Live with it.

    Or treat it like a parking ticket. All these people are freaking out because you might get a ticket, and not be able to bargain with the cop. Holy Cow, have you never gotten a parking ticket? Seriously, grow up people. It is the same damn thing.

    If you get a parking ticket, you are hosed. You can’t talk your way out of it. No ability to explain that “you were only in there for a second”. Ignorance is no excuse, either. If you didn’t see the line, tough luck. Explain it to the judge. Why should this be any different?

    True story: A few years ago I drove my mother to a doctor’s appointment at Group Health. I ended up parking in a handicap zone. The sign was obscured by brush, but I didn’t notice. Ironically, I could have legally parked there, if I had borrowed my mom’s hanger. I’m sure I could have fought the ticket in court, but I had the money, and just payed it. How is this different than someone who drives over the paint while visiting the big city?

    It isn’t. People will get ticked for this. As it is currently set up, those people will get a warning. But if they do this more than once, they get fined. What is pathetic is not that this has broken down over cultural lines, but that the “urban” side has done such a poor job of making their case.

  14. Not opposed to enforcing bus lanes at all (or, as I am primarily a pedestrian, blocking crosswalks – when I had residency in Qatar you got smacked HARD in points and fines if any part of your car was over the white line at a stop. More than a few uncomfortable things there; that wasn’t one of them). As 99% of my in-city travel is by foot or transit it’s painfully clear on a daily basis that there is little to no effort expended on making sure that cars follow the rules.

    However, I’d also like to see some enforcement of cross-traffic blocking the bus lanes; this is a situation where bus cameras will most likely not work. Stand at Third and Spring any weekday evening you like and you will see the situation where eastbound cars on Spring try and beat the light and get caught in the intersection – seemingly on most light cycles. This would be a situation where enforcement would be of great use as often both northbound lanes of Third are blocked for at least part of the light cycle. A couple of officers standing there might help “remind” people not to go if you’re not sure you can get clear.

    To be honest, this encroachment at intersections seems to be much more of a “thing” than it was several years ago, possibly because it’s seemingly never enforced.

    1. The thing with the blocking by cross-traffic is if you get meaningful enforcement of it, autoistas are going to insist that buses get ticketed too, despite the fact that cars turning right on red usually fill up the space a bus would need to not block the intersection, and thus will end up sitting there until traffic clears enough that there’s space to pass through the intersection and not block it. Which would very badly impact headways.

  15. “…but many of these bills simply seek to impose Republican cultural norms on Democratic cities, like removing voting rights or preventing firearm bans.”

    State-level preemption on firearms laws are generally a good thing because it prevents the state from becoming a patchwork of different laws that end up being exceedingly difficult for licensed carriers to memorize and follow.

  16. I moved out of Seattle, so no longer have the right to complain about any of this… but…

    For the sake of whatever, if this city can’t figure out that the time of 100 people (on the bus) outweighs the time of one person (in their SOV), and find some way to demonstrate that, everyone involved deserves every ounce of their damned suffering.

    If this bill doesn’t go through, expect more citizen enforcement upcoming, a-la that lady with a red flag in the Olive street bus lane last year. Hope for your sakes it will remain ‘cute’.

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