Q: What does the law say about yielding to transit buses? – Greg V., Tacoma
A: It says that you shall, Greg.
And we mean “shall.”
Here’s the verbiage from RCW 46.61.220, titled, “Transit vehicles”:
“The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a transit vehicle traveling in the same direction that has signaled and is re-entering the flow of traffic.”
And this from the Washington Driver Guide:
“You must yield to any transit vehicle (bus) that has signaled and is pulling back onto the roadway.”
Many buses have a little “yield” sign emblazoned on the back to remind us of the requirement.
And if that doesn’t work, the fine for failing to yield to a transit vehicle in the city of Tacoma is $136.
Greg was compelled to write us here at Traffic Q&A headquarters after witnessing what he felt was dubious behavior by a Pierce Transit operator last month.
It was during the morning commute at North Proctor and North 21st in Tacoma.
We’ll let Greg take it from here:
“Bus 306 on Route 14 pulled up to the bus stop, bypassing a long line of cars at the light. Without opening its door, it immediately put on the blinkers and pulled back (forced its way) into traffic as the light turned. The bus moved in with such dedication that the car in front of me would have been hit if it had not braked.”
So, was that bus driver just trying to beat traffic?
We put the question to Pierce Transit spokeswoman Alexandra Fastle.
“My understanding is drivers often pull into the zones to ensure they don’t miss anybody who may not be visible but may be waiting. We would rather pull off into an empty zone than drive past and miss a passenger.
“Trees and other pedestrian traffic can make it hard to decipher who may be waiting, so it is common to resort to pulling into the zone for good measure.”
“We are fairly certain, without being there, this was not an effort to bypass traffic. The drivers know in the long run this doesn’t save them time.”
Remember, not letting a bus into traffic punishes not only the driver but also those folks on board, people who otherwise might be driving their cars, competing with you for lane space and parking.
And shall means shall.
CYCLISTS GET DISCOUNTS
To get more people biking into downtown Tacoma, Downtown On the Go is coordinating a program that will give discounts to bicyclists at several businesses.
Things will get rolling this month at the Old Spaghetti Factory, where bicyclists can get free garlic cheese bread with purchase of an entrée. It will be The Hub in April, where bicyclists can get a free appetizer with purchase of an entrée.
A different business is featured each month, and each shop or restaurant will be equipped with bike racks, air pumps and extra locks to make things easy.
We expect the entire schedule to be up at downtownonthego.com soon.