Saturday, February 7, 2015

WMATA Bus Driver & the "Rule of Law"

I don't usually blog about my commute but I had a silly interaction with a Metro 22A bus on my way home and ended up writing this long complaint in WMATA's online complaint form and thought, having spent so much time typing it up, I would "reuse" it here.

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The above Google satellite view shows how Arlington Mill Dr deadends into Walter Reed. The two left lanes are controlled by a light and are for turning left. Shortly before the intersection, a new lane is added on the right that goes into a cutout for right turns. Between the right turn cutout lane and the two left turn lanes is an island for pedestrians or cyclists from the trail to cross either Walter Reed or Arlington Mill.

Both the 22A bus and I (on a bicycle, on the trail) were proceeding away from Shirlington towards Walter Reed. I wished to proceed in the crosswalk across the cutout and then across Walter Reed to the trail on the opposite side. The 22A bus wished to turn right. Although the operator saw me approaching the crosswalk on my bike, she proceeded into the crosswalk and only stopped when she realized I was right beside the right side of her bus and that if she continued she would run into me. After she stopped and I stopped, she then started inching forward, but I banged on the bus and went around in front of the bus and explained that in the crosswalk I had right of way. (Which I believe is true - in Virginia the law seems to be that motor vehicles must yield to persons in the crosswalk, which includes mounted cyclists.) The operator's response was that "I have the green light."

I believe the operator is wrong about that - I don't think the stoplight on the island is to control the right turning traffic in the cutout but rather the two left turn lanes, but it isn't obviously one way or the other. (The main reason I think this way is that the crosswalk I was in comes into the cutout at an angle and is not controlled by any pedestrian signal.)

However I am willing to concede the operator is correct, but I think it makes little difference. Safety is supposed to be a priority in public transit operations and an operator whose first thought is about the green light she missed and not the cyclist she almost killed is displaying lack of professionalism in the worst way.

I intend to talk to the Arlington Police about the intersection and the traffic control, but again I am primarily concerned with the poor and aggressive driving attitude of this operator. I would note by contrast that every work day during the school year, I approach this intersection from the opposite direction and there are always school buses waiting to turn right in the same way as your bus driver was. In every case the school bus driver yields to me as I come across Walter Reed and then cross that cutout in the crosswalk.

You should be embarrassed that the school bus people do it right (regardless of the applicable law) and your operator is so poorly trained.

I would appreciate a response that the operator has been spoken to. The operator will likely report that I seemed excited. Well, yeah. After tangling with a city bus, one's pulse rises 100 points.

Good day to you.

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