“Georgia Avenue Dedicated Bus Lanes have opened today”

by Prince Of Petworth April 11, 2016 at 9:45 am 31 Comments

Photo by @DDOTDC

From DDOT:

“Beginning Monday, April 11, 2016, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will begin operation and enforcement of the Georgia Avenue NW Dedicated Bus Lanes from Florida Avenue to Barry Place, NW. The dedicated bus lanes will be in effect Mondays to Saturdays, between 7 am and 10 pm.

The following vehicles will be allowed to travel along the bus lanes: transit buses, tour buses, charter buses, school buses, active passenger service taxicabs, bicycles (not pedicabs), paratransit service vehicles and authorized emergency vehicles.

Driving in bus lanes is prohibited for all other motorists, unless they are making turns at intersections or driveways. When making turns, motorists are allowed to enter the bus lane 40 feet prior to turning. Parking is also restricted while the bus lanes are in operation.

A red, high friction surfacing will be added to the Georgia Avenue NW Dedicated Bus Lanes in late spring 2016 to further identify them; however, bus lanes will officially be active and regulated starting next Monday, April 11.

Signage consistent with the operation of these bus lanes will be posted along the corridor.

Motorists are urged to follow new traffic patterns and adhere to bus lane regulations as fines will be imposed for failure to obey bus lane regulations.”

  • Jon

    I really hope these are actually enforced. The ones on 7th and 9th are never respected.

    • textdoc

      Agreed. Every time I drive along 7th through Penn Quarter/Chinatown, I drive in the non-bus lane… but I always see cars in the bus lane, and I haven’t seen any enforcement.

    • JohnH

      The one on 9th through Chinatown is a joke. Either enforce them or just let all traffic use them. Bus lanes are nice in theory, not in reality.
      I also think it’s confusing to let cabs use them, which makes it look like other passenger cars can use them. I don’t think most people equate bus lane = taxis.

  • Matt

    Florida to Barry? I know it gets congested there, but that isn’t a very significant distance. Are there plans to extend?

    • MMMkay

      I hope so! This is a pretty teensy stretch – three tenths of a mile. That said, I think dedicated bus lanes are great, and hopefully this is DDOT sticking their toe in the water before eventually diving in.

      • GBinCH

        I think they’ll get there, but it definitely takes a lot of planning for each route. Just like bike routes over the past few years, I think we’ll see the city gradually expanding the guaranteed bus lane network. Every major European city relies on them and dedicated bus lanes do a pretty good job of moving both buses and cars in the non-dedicated lanes (there is a positive impact for everyone to having buses in their own lanes). I see no reason why this system won’t be expanded.
        As the press release mentions tour buses, I wonder if that’s a hint at plans for a much broader network? I can’t imagine there are that many tour buses on that stretch of Georgia. I can see, however, that the city might be setting policy for who can use bus lanes throughout the city.

  • Accountering

    They aren’t going to enforce these. What a waste of money. You need to get buy-in from MPD, or better yet just have camera on the busses giving tickets.

  • OP Anon

    Would be better if the press release addresses how they would enforce the law. Put a motion activated camera on each block and they would rack up $$$.

    • Anon

      They sure would. I was paying more attention to the dude on the phone who almost sideswiped me at the time, but I could’ve sworn that the electronic sign said that the fine is $250. I don’t usually drive on that stretch, but coincidentally did the other day during the morning rush and can confidently say that with a camera the city would have made thousands just in the few minutes I was there.

  • dc cyclist

    I think it’s great that they installed these. The red paving will be nice too. I am sure lots of drivers will ignore the rules as they do further down on 7th but hopefully the cops will be pretty vigilant, especially at first when people are still getting used to the lanes. Would love to see this on more of Georgia ave and then 16th street too!

  • nobus lanes

    Unintended consequence (or is it intended?): I predict this will create a *massive* backup southbound at Florida, where cars stack up waiting to turn left, and with it box-blocking and gridlock. Until yesterday, through traffic could keep right to cross Florida and keep traffic moving. There are a couple of other left turn points further north which will backup as well. Blech.

    Before you say “good, you should bike or bus”, consider: I live in Petworth, have two different school drop offs near CU, then need to get to Old Town, Alex. This has been the only tenable route I’ve found in the last 5 years.

    • stacksp

      What I can see happening is that drivers are going to use this “bus lane” and go around the waiting left turn vehicles and merge back in to the left lane.

      • this that

        Yes, that will definitely happen UNLESS it is enforced. And if it isn’t going to be enforced, why have it?

    • Steve F

      Fortunately, our public policy isn’t made with your specific commute needs in mind. It’s hopefully made with regards to the greater good, which a fair amount of research suggests is improved by adding bus lanes.

      • this that

        You’re funny Steve. My point is this: not everyone can bike or bus or metro, and the city needs to figure out how to work for all it’s constituents. I pay phat DC taxes, far more than average, and I’d hope DC policy doesn’t force me and others like me to have to move to the ‘burbs.

    • Isn’t there still a through lane to the left of the bus lane at that intersection? Then the left turn lane to the left of that?

      • eva

        Yes, but there are so many left turning vehicles in the mornings that that lane also backs up.

        I used to bike down here every day so I feel pretty confident in saying that drivers will just use the bus lane with no qualms. The bike lane on 7th b/w FL Ave and RI Ave is used so frequently as a passing lane for cars that I was nearly getting clipped 2-3 times a day in that half a mile stretch.

        • Ah, I see. I never go through there at rush hour, just sometimes on the weekend. Which isn’t to say that’s empty then, but I’m sure much less of a disaster.

    • Guillermo Brown

      If you live in Petworth and have school dropoffs near Catholic, why not take the Irving street crossover directly to Brookland? I have a similar route and NEVER take Florida

      • this that

        I do, but then return to Georgia via Michigan Ave and Columbia Rd. (TMI: then “S” to 6th to “M” to 3rd St Tunnel. I’ve got it down to a science ;)

        • textdoc

          To avoid the Georgia-getting-backed-up-just-north-of-Florida issue… would it work to turn right (west) onto Barry from Georgia, then turn left on Sherman and continue south on Florida to 9th?

          • Blah blah

            Thanks for the tip – I’ll give it a try.

            BTW, I get maximizing utility. However, DC keeps making road “improvements” that — speaking personally — add hurdles to my commute. I love DC, have lived here for 49 years, and want to stay here. But every change that adds 10 or 20 minutes 2xday supports my wife’s claim that we should bail.

  • jdre

    A shared bus and bike lane? What can go wrong?

  • Philippe Lecheval

    I’ve lived here long enough to know that these will be poorly enforced. Buses will have to constantly go around cabs/Ubers/regular old dumb asses stopped in the bus lane.

    • jdre

      I was confused when I read “active passenger service taxicabs.” Does that mean “with a passenger” or “for hire?” Can a cab pull over to pickup/drop off? By design, I mean, before the lack of enforcement even comes into play. If I’m reading it as “cabs can pick up and drop off in this lane,” that’s a bad design — frankly there should be more thoroughfares where it’s unlawful for cabs to essentially double park while someone fumbles around to get in/out.

  • anon

    I hope this does well and that they expand the dedicated lanes further north on Georgia. Since the streetcar is dead and there’s no hope of a metro expansion up Georgia in my lifetime, I think a more robust bus system remains the best chance for improved transit from Georgia Ave to Silver Spring.

  • Stoyan

    i wonder if motorcycle will be allowed?

  • DC1

    The only way to effectively enforce is with cameras like in NYC.

  • textdoc

    At least this means (I hope?) that they’ve fixed the stretch at the southern end where the southbound side of the road was marked as though it were two traffic lanes… but the reality was that 2/3 of one “lane” was occupied by street parking. That always made for confusion.

  • emilyjace

    This is a horrible idea! Do those of you in favor actually drive this stretch of road with any frequency? Firstly, it’s only 4 blocks. Not enough time for the bus to make any significant progress anyway. Secondly, it’s a very congested stretch of Georgia Ave to begin with–right by McDonald’s (which will interfere with the bus lane), a turning lane, Howard Hospital, and the CF that is the Georgia/Florida intersection.

    I take the bus with some frequency and I drive kids to school, avoiding that stretch when I can even before the bus lanes were installed. This is NOT where the bus lanes should have been installed or started. And when the busses are running every 16 minutes it is a compete waste of a usable traffic lane to smoosh all the people over into one lane of traffic. Horrible.


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