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January 24th, 2007


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09:44 am - Great Moments in T Bus Driving
Most of the T bus drivers I've seen in Somerville are okay folks. In the past few years I've had some interesting conversations with a few of the local drivers on the 90 and 88. This morning, though, I watched a real winner on the 94 forcing the car ahead of it to break the law.

It happened on College Ave, heading in towards Davis. The traffic was stopped at the red light and backed up all the way to the library. There was a compact car in the left lane at the corner of College Ave and Winter Street (the one-way that goes between the Store 18 and the block with the realty agency and Nick's Deli-icious.) The car was stopped at the legal stop line well ahead of the vehicle in front of it, keeping the intersection free for anybody who needed to turn onto Winter Street. Only problem was, the 94 bus was behind this car and was growing impatient in the face of the red light.

It began to honk at the car. First briefly, then consistently. It wanted the car to move ahead and block the intersection, even though there's a sign right there on the corner that says DO NOT BLOCK INTERSECTION. Cars travelling north on College Ave who want to make a left onto Winter will often find jackasses blocking the intersection, and they hold up traffic behind them while the southbound traffic clears enough for them to make the turn. The compact car was obeying the law and following the rules and keeping that intersection clear, but this wasn't good enough for the 94 bus. It leaned on its horn as it loomed behind the tiny car. The compact driver finally relented and pulled ahead into the forbidden spot. This pleased the 94 bus, for it quickly swung out into the right-hand lane and sped over to the Store 18 stop.

I realize there's commuters on that bus waiting to get to the bus stop. But the bus has to obey all traffic laws to get to that stop -- and it certainly can't force other vehicles to break the traffic laws. And honestly, if it knew it would have to get to that bus stop, it should've been in the damn right hand lane to begin with.

I feel bad for the driver of the compact car, who was unnecessarily hassled and forced to do something they didn't want to do. In the grand scheme of things this isn't such a bad infraction, but it's bad driving habits to begin with and shouldn't be encouraged. I don't know if I'd have felt annoyed this way towards the honking vehicle if it had been like a regular pick-up truck or something, but it did rub me the wrong way this morning.

(19 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:bostonista
Date:January 24th, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)
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You should send this to the T, and cc the Glob.
[User Picture]
From:ron_newman
Date:January 24th, 2007 03:37 pm (UTC)
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This doesn't bother me that much. The T driver is just trying to stay on schedule.
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From:derspatchel
Date:January 24th, 2007 03:41 pm (UTC)
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It's still breaking a traffic law. Sure, every Masshole has their favorite law to break, and nobody's 100% perfect, but I would've felt real bad if that compact car had been ticketed for blocking the intersection after being bullied to do so by the bus.
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From:kpht
Date:January 24th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
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they're harassing someone to get them to break the law, and on company time. that bothers me. i wouldn't have moved (most likely i'd have opened my window and pointed to the sign), but a lot of people just want to make everyone happy, like that guy.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:January 24th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)

Why don't they look?

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But in London, I am told, a bus can never be at fault for any accident -- they are great whales moving in the ocean, and you move around them

Reminds me of that MST3K short produced by a train line to keep folks from speeding around train crossings when one was approaching. "Trains are blameless, holy creatures."

(Sure, you shouldn't speed 'round the train crossings, but I love that line anyway.)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:kpht
Date:January 24th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)

Re: Why don't they look?

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oh boy, that mental picture made me laugh so hard i cried.
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[User Picture]
From:sup3rmark
Date:January 24th, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC)
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Bikes are allowed on sidewalks, except in financial districts.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 24th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
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No, bikes are not supposed to be on sidewalks anywhere. Go read the Massachusetts Drivers' Manual. Bikes are considered to be vehicles, just like a car or a moped, and need to follow all the traffic regulations, just like a car. Ever see a car driving on the sidewalk? Same rules apply to bikes.
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From:signsoflife
Date:January 24th, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC)
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Perhaps you should read the driver's manual which you are citing. On page 139 (page 37 of the .pdf of Chapter 4), it states, "You [the bicyclist] may use sidewalks outside business districts, unless there is a local ordinance prohibiting it."

http://www.mass.gov/rmv/dmanual/chapter4.pdf
[User Picture]
From:sup3rmark
Date:January 24th, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
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hahahaha owned. thanks :P
[User Picture]
From:signsoflife
Date:January 24th, 2007 08:22 pm (UTC)
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Funny thing is, last time I had this exact conversation, it went the other way -- a person was saying, "Go read the Driver's Manaul! It says a bike is like a pedestrian!"

Unfortunately I've come to realize a lot of people cite things they don't bother to read, because they assume other people won't read, either.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 25th, 2007 12:23 am (UTC)
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Massachusetts screwed up when they wrote this and people at the Registry will admit it if pressed. Every other state treats bicycles as vehicles and so prohibits them from sidewalks. This is the concept of the Uniform Vehicle Code which Massachusetts seems not to follow all the time. The idea is to avoid problems with pedestrians and bicycles. It is also safer for cyclists to be in the road way, especially in urban areas, since car drivers turning into a driveway, parking lot, side street, etc. frequently do not see cyclists on the sidewalk with unfortunate consequences for the cyclist.

Go to http://www.bikexprt.com/massfacil/laws/drivmanl.htm for a detailed commentary of problems with the Massachusetts Driver's Manual. Look at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/pgs55thru57.htm#bike to see what the situation is in California. Or http://www.dot.state.ny.us/pubtrans/share.html for the situation in New York State.
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From:signsoflife
Date:January 25th, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
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That is fascinating information, thank you; it remains that the citation provided originally was flagarently wrong, and apparently grossly misleading as well.

In the midst of my pedantry I suppose I should specify that I believe bicycles *should* be treated as any other vehicle, and that the erroneous belief that sidewalks are safer for bikes needs to be addressed publically and often.
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From:sup3rmark
Date:January 25th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
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so, recap of this exchange:

anon: bikes aren't allowed on the sidewalk.
me: yes they are, except in financial districts.
anon: no, read this specific passage.
signsoflife: [contradicting quote from that exact passage]
anon: oh that passage is incorrect, i'm still right, but without anything to back myself up. now let me point to irrelevant information about other cities!

admit defeat, anonymous.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 26th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC)
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The following are true:
Massachusetts law treats bicycles as vehicles.
Massachusetts law allows you to ride a bike on a sidewalk outside a business district, except when prohibited by local ordinance.
The Mass RMV manual says lots of incorrect things about bikes, but it gets the sidewalk rules correct.
[User Picture]
From:dogofthefuture
Date:January 24th, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
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You make it sound as if it were the bus itself doing this.
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From:derspatchel
Date:January 24th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC)
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In Boston, the bus and driver fuse together as one. It's symbiotically disturbing, really.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 24th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC)

Store 18

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I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one who refers to the store as Store 18.
[User Picture]
From:ndgmtlcd
Date:January 25th, 2007 12:11 am (UTC)
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I was horrified when reading this!

A bus has absolute priority in Montreal, and bus drivers are well paid, with good benefits and considerable job security. But no bus driver would ever act in a dangerous manner towards any vehicle, powered or not, or put their passengers in danger of injury by some collision, however minor. They are very much aware of the power and inertia of their bus, at every instant.

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