Friday, July 23, 2010

An Open Letter to King County Metro Transit Operators


Do you see that line on the road there, to your right? Oh, now it's kind of under your wheels. Now it's on your right again.

Some people call it a fog line. It's a lane marker, and along southbound East Marginal Way South in Seattle it divides the motorized vehicle traffic lane from the bicycle lane. One way to tell this is the graphic of the bicycle and rider painted in that lane.

Here's a thing about that lane: because it's called a bicycle lane and a there's a bicycle painted in it, I feel like I have the right to ride my bike in it without having to share it with motorized vehicles. And here's another thing: the City of Seattle thinks so, too, and they wrote it down in the law. Seattle Municipal Code section 11.53.190 is entitled "Driving In a Bicycle Lane" and says, "The operator of a motor vehicle shall not drive in a bicycle lane except to execute a turning maneuver, yielding to all persons riding bicycles thereon." That's a law. There are other laws that say a cyclist has the right to travel in a bicycle lane and that a person has a right to overtake on the right when the roadway is laned for traffic permitting such travel--like if there were a bicycle lane next to a motor vehicle lane.

This afternoon, when I was riding my bicycle southbound along East Marginal Way South between South Hanford and South Spokane Streets in the bicycle lane, your colleague was in the wrong when she crossed that white line without signaling (and apparently without checking her mirrors). And when we collided while I was moving straight ahead with the right of way in a marked bicycle lane and I came out the worse for wear, and her response was "I didn't even see you" and "these buses are really big", well, it made me mad. And when the driver operating the coach behind her told me that the collision was my fault--that I was operating too close to the bus--it made me really mad.

Now to be clear, I respect the job you do, and I know that we cyclists don't always make it easy. Some of my compatriots operate their bicycles with utter disregard for the law, for their own well-being, and for the health and safety of those around them. I know how frustrating that can be to an occasional driver, and I can only imagine how much more frustrating it is for a professional transit driver. However, I wasn't operating with disregard for the law this afternoon. And as you are the professionals, I expect more.

That white line is there to protect the most vulnerable of road users. It's almost all we've got, it and the law that backs it up. So stay the hell on the other side of it, please. Make a point of it. Your bus is big, we have established that, and it's dangerous for it to get to close to other road users, also stipluated. So mind your lane and stay out of ours. And then maybe I will be the not quite so

Bloody Cyclist