I first noticed this traffic change yesterday morning. I had intended to write a post about it. As I thought about it later, though, I wondered if I’d misunderstood the situation. I mean, who would design something like this? So I decided to hold off until today to post about this.
I got off the 47 bus this morning, at the stop on Pine Street, between 6th and 5th Avenues. I took another look. No, I hadn’t misunderstood the situation. I managed to snap this photo during a momentary gap in traffic.
This is a pretty important bus stop. Every bus coming down from Capitol Hill stops here – the 10, the 11, the 43, the 47, and the 49. It’s the entrance to Westlake Station – the first transfer to Link light rail after Capitol Hill Station.
Yesterday morning, I wondered why so many cars were in the bus stop. (It’s also the end of a Bus Only lane, by the way, starting at 9th Avenue.) Then I saw it. The left lane of this block of Pine had been to converted to a Bicycle Only lane. (There are now bike lanes up Pike and down Pine, which I think is awesome.) The center lane has been converted to Left Turn Only, turning south onto 5th Avenue – and that’s the problem. This means that car traffic continuing west is forced into the bus stop. Two things happen: Either cars get stuck behind a line of buses, or cars get stopped by a traffic light and buses can’t get into the stop. It’s bad for cars and bad for buses.
I’m more puzzled than anything else. This design seems to be the opposite of the whole point of a Bus Only lane.
This morning, I saw a few cars just continuing forward through that center lane, around the 47 and the 10 in the bus stop. I can’t really fault them for that.
I told Phillip about this last night. He replied that designs can always be tweaked if they don’t work out the first time. I suspect he’s right. It’s also possible that this isn’t the final design. Could this bus stop be moving somewhere else? Is it going to be eliminated?
I could be entirely wrong about this being a bad design. It could just be a bad design for now. It could be a work in progress.
(EDIT: The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this is, indeed, a work in progress. So I added a question mark to the post title.)