Dear PoPville – Bus Lane on 7th St, NW

Dear PoPville,

Can someone explain to me the restrictions on 7th street’s north bound right hand lane? I see signs limiting it to bicycle and bus traffic. On numerous occasions I see cars using this lane in plain view of DC police. I have yet to see them stop these cars.

32 Comment

  • They’re actually bike lanes for really large bikeshare users…

    And meant to frustrate people by making lane cutting cab drivers more annoying.

  • gotryit

    Yes, they’re breaking the law and MPD is doing nothing about it. Not a shocker.

    • Not to mention, MPD is parked illegally in a Metrobus stop. Again, not too shocking.

      Then again, the buses will block the traffic lane instead of using their designated bus stop 9 out of 10 times anyway.

  • The bus-only restrictions on northbound 7th and southbound 9th are routinely ignored by auto drivers with impunity. If there is any enforcement, I’ve never seen it. Someone once said (a cynic, like me, I suppose) that they were set up to fail so the district government could say, “See? They don’t work.” I don’t know if that’s true or not.

    • I heard that too — the choice not to enforce is more or less to help them fail. From someone who used to work at DDOT, so maybe reliable.

      Doubly frustrating, since it’s a failure for both bikes and buses. Kills traffic when the bus needs to weave around the double parker. I’ve biked and bused that section many times. Eventually gave up and took another street on the bike.

      There’s a real design problem with accessing parking, but 99% of the issues come from double parkers, cabies, etc.

  • There’s probably also an unenforced restriction on taking a picture with your cell phone while driving.

    • +1. Surely the OP wouldn’t be driving and using his cellphone to take a picture while simultaneously complaining that other drivers are not following the law. That would be silly.

  • I saw a cop pull over someone for driving in that bus lane a few years ago. I’ve never seen it since, but I stay out of the lane because with my luck, I would get pulled over for it.

  • I thought they were essentially a “yield to buses” lane. That you could drive in them but had to get out if a bus was coming – because – well that would make sense wouldn’t it? Snarling traffic further by taking away a lane that is otherwise used only once every 10 minutes or so would be kind of stupid.

    • No. The point of the lane is to expedite bus (and bike) traffic.

      If 7th street is too clogged for your liking, feel free to take 9th or 6th.

      • So bikes, which move a helluva lot slower than busses and are vastly out-massed, are allowed to share the bus lanes? And therefore not down not just a car or two in a sharrow lane, but a whole bus full of people on their way to work?


        • austindc

          I think the idea is that a bike has a small enough footprint that a bus can safely pass, essentially getting more bang for your buck out of the lane. I think the idea is that these lanes (when used only by buses and bikes) can move hundreds of more people through a dense area than it could if people were in single passenger cars.

        • I used to take this route daily as part of my commute. Have done it on bike and bus. I have to say: your completely wrong. Even on an old, fairly slow, heavily laden bike I was consistently slightly faster than the bus all the way up to the Howard hill.

          The 70 makes enough stops that a bike really doesn’t slow it down. 79 is faster, but at commuting hours they both get blocked badly with traffic. As other people noted, they can work around and co-exist quite well with the bikes.

          Also, the 7th st. issue is northbound — not on the way to work for most people.

          • I’m not talking about whether a bike can cover the same overall distance as a bus in the same amout of time. That’s an inaccurate comparison because the bus stops a lot more frequently than a person on a bike. I’m talking about the fact that buses when moving in a dedicated lane should be averaging about 25mph. I seriously doubt the average bike commuter in DC is going that fast.

            So, if you’ve got a dedicated bus/bike lane that is supposed to speed the bus along its way, the bus is going to be driving at less than optimal speed because bike traffic slows down the bus. I ride bus routes that run in normal traffic and it happens all the time, particularly uphill. Add up all the bus passengers inconvenienced by the slower speed, buses getting stuck at more red lights, etc., and the benefits of one-by-one cyclists in the bus lane seem vastly inferior to the costs borne by the bus riders (lost time, wasted fuel, more exhaust, etc.).

            Plus, this bike/bus combo adds the danger of a speedier-than-normal bus bearing down on a cyclist. Seems pretty dangerous to me.

          • Re: annony. I don’t think you’ve ever ridden this section in commuting hours. First, bike is faster than bus, in this section of 7th st, during commuting hours. I’m describing reality, and you’re complaining that the bike breaks the ideal of an efficient bus lane. That doesn’t exist here — cars are parked in the lane — so your attributions of selfish behavior only apply to some alternate reality.

            Second, you’re still missing the point that the bikes and buses co-exist in this space just fine. Buses pass bikes w/o problems.

            Third, re: On the subject of average speed, you agree that the bus stops a lot. The speed limit is 25 MPH. Therefore it is impossible for for the bus in the dedicate lane to average 25 MPH as you say it should.

            Fourth, how is a bus “bearing down on a cyclist” dangerous? They see you, don’t hit you. Seems the same as any vehicle overtaking another one.

            Finally, nobody is averaging 25 mph if they obey the speed limit. Too many stop lights.

          • When I’m cycling northbound on this stretch, I keep an eye out for busses and make way for them to pass.

            Cars in the lane? No dice. Forcing them to move into the left lane, where they belong, frees up the lane for the bus.

  • DDOT marked the lanes as bike/bus only, but never codified it. There is no such thing in DC law as a lane for buses only. Therefore, no one can get a ticket for it. Take a look through DC Code, and you’ll find nothing relating to bus lanes.

    • Let me guess, this was another genius move by Gabe Klein? Establish special lanes for which there is no law or regulation allowing it?

      I am so happy that man is in Chicago now.

      • …the choice not to enforce is more or less to help them fail…

        DC government is not that clever to make such a predetermined decision.

        Come on folks – have you been to Motor Vehicles lately.

        I still don’t get the Klein haters… I am born and raised in DC. Its lot better now than it has ever been.

    • Ah – could this be why the police who sit, parked illegally, chatting and eating, at the Verizon entrance won’t enforce the law?

  • Its my understanding that the Bus/Bike lane ends just before that light, and for the rest of the way up 7th street its open to regular traffic.

  • I’d think this was a good idea, if it showed any promise to combat the problem of buses not getting the hell out of the way when they stop.

    Buses dont use these lanes. They go down whatever lane is open, then pull halfway across the road, or not getting their ass out of the other lanes, to let someone who moves slower than a snail get on the bus.

    But yeah, we should all take the bus lanes super seriously because, you know, the buses are taking it seriously.

    FWIW, I dont use the bus lanes because there are cops everywhere. But, they’re beyond pointless.

    As for the fact that bikes use them too, I thought you guys said bikes were allowed in every lane… why do they need their own 12 foot wide lane?

    • I ride this route northbound daily. I’ve never seen a bus do what you describe.

      What we do see is thousands of passenger cars illlegally riding in the Bus/Bike lane, blocking the transit of bus riders and cyclists.

  • DDOT had a meeting at Mt Vernon Sqr a while ago about reconfiguring 9th and 7th streets. They said the bus/bike lane was an experiment, but as someone said already, DC law wasn’t changed to make it enforceable. They said that any car in that lane could just say they were preparing to turn right and could avoid a ticket, so they stopped enforcing it years ago.

  • Saddest is when the Metrobus can’t proceed up 7th Street because of the masses of suburban visitors breaking the law and jamming up traffic in the bus-only lane.

  • I wish police would enforce the “No Turns” rule on that intersection more. 9 times out of 10, the offenders I’ve seen have been cabs.

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