The Seattle Hero Who Directed Cars to Leave the Bus-Only Lane Has a Lot of Rabid Haters



I don't own a car but rented one to drive for a work trip and I accidentally drove in the bus lane. I got out asap but imo, they should paint those lanes red or put angled strips to make people notice and stand out more when they are in that lane.

Anyway, good for that lady.


I like your "discrepancy" theory. The car culture is selling the car as an instrument of entitlement, so people get mad when they don't wield the entitlement they were sold.


But what does "clickbait" mean, really? Can it even have a definition at all?


Excellent post, Charles. In an ordinary month, I don't spend much time behind the wheel of a car. When unusual circumstances occur and I wind up driving, especially city driving, for more than an hour a day for several days in a row, I start to feel Mr. Hyde stir within me. Very disturbing!


I don't think this will start a trend.


I frequently see Uber and Lyft drivers and entitled young drivers forget and park in the clearly marked Bus Stop.

Maybe we should commit them overnight for observation for memory issues, and sell their cars?

They probably won't notice, since their memories are faulty ...


If I weren't married...


Drivers in San Francisco are almost worse than the Drivers in Seattle...

In front of my Apartment Complex the city tried to protect a drive way and the sidewalk in front by creating a no-car zone where cars commonly zip around a car waiting to turn (or turn). The problem with this is you don't have full visibility of in front of the car who is turning until you commit and once you commit you cannot stop in time.

Many people have been hit; many accidents happen on a weekly basis. Just because they created this barrier now people drive into the drive way that is next door to get around the car turning.

Fscking drivers they have no respect for the law they just know they are driving 2 tons of steel and can kill you if they want.


Recently they added a pedestrian button which lights up; this has helped people from being hit unfortunately this is an "extended" 4 way intersection so not all traffic can see each other.


The lane marking isn’t the problem. The signage isn’t the problem. The road design isn’t the problem. Drivers knowing or not knowing the rules isn’t the problem.

Some significant % of drivers reliably do whatever they think they can get away with, no matter the signs, the law, the design, etc.

Enforcement is the only way to change this. A cop in a lawn chair could hand out tickets all day all around the city. A camera could do an even easier/better job. Block the intersection? Ticket. Drive in the restricted lane? Ticket. Don’t stop, don’t yield, talk/text/post/email, don’t signal, speed, or any of the other myriad laws drivers break all day every day? Ticket.


I'm fairly sure that you definitely put the carriage before the horse - get it?

Humans were/are/will be competitive in a car, or at a bar, or during SAR, and always too far. That said, that's the main problem with traffic - it's competitive when it should be cooperative. That is a failure of training, aptitude, and attitude of the system for placing new operators in the cockpit and of the operators themselves. As others have said, many drivers should not be on the road, the bar is set too low.


"In the case of the immediate transformation, a normal and even nice person enters the car and, as they drive, becomes an impulsive brute. We can call this process the hulkification of the driver. But once the person leaves the car, they are normal again, nice again, are jocular again. In the case of the longer transformation, the driver becomes a Hulk for life. They are mean when in the car, and just as mean when out of it. The comments on 1176luv, "A True Hero in Seattle," was filled with the latter."

Might not be "the latter." I would not assume that the kind of drivers who would make those comments were not tweeting from behind the wheel while they ARE driving.


Isn't it about time to just ban private cars from the downtown core? Everyone could get, say, a dozen passes a year for the times when they need to take Grandma to the doctor or whatever, but the rest of the time just bus or bike in. Having thousands of people driving in (largely alone) every day is just insane. It's a big reason the buses are slow.


Mr .Happy @ 7: Yeah, same here.


When one scurries around in one's cozy/plush Livingroom (w/steering wheel), and things aren't going as well as expected (See the USA, in a Chevrolet!), expect the FOX-factor to emerge -- raging, screaming, Entitlement, and if I'm Bigger than you, well, we all know how physics works.

Thanks for this one, Chas.
The Road is America.


Assuming all the cars in that lane were eventually going to turn right on 7th, this situation is kind of ambiguous legally. When there's a right-hand bus-only lane, you're still supposed to use that lane to turn right. The law only says you have to enter the lane "as close as practicable" to the intersection. If that right lane is totally backed up with right-turning cars, it may indeed be the case that you have to get into that lane a block or two back. It sucks but it's the reality of gridlock, there's no real solution other than @13's car-free downtown.


“But the point of the video is to show the utter lack of enforcement of the bus-only rule in Seattle.”

Do you have any idea how expensive it would be to enforce traffic laws like these? How many more cops we would have to put on the street?? How many more traffic court judges we would have to put on the bench???

Wouldn’t that money be better spent an programs for the homeless? Or education??


Bravo and Kudos, Seattle Bus Lane Hero!! I truly admire your courage as well as your common sense. I'll bet a shitload of Metro drivers and passengers salute you, too. I can't imagine driving through Seattle anymore.


@18 I came here to make the same point. There's no doubt drivers abuse the bus lanes horrifically, but the current design is partially to blame.


Ok. This one was funny, and as a car owner, I happen to agree, cars should stay the fuck out of the bus lanes. Carry on, Mudede. I will rage at your next article.


It's not a criminal offense to drive in the bus lane. And some people are willing to take the risk of being ticketed. What this lady was doing was preventing the drivers from doing so and she was using only her physical body. This could have been dangerous for her. She wasn't a cop. They felt she didn't have the right to do so. It's similar to jaywalking. It's a violation but not a criminal offense. Imagine someone stopping you from running across an empty street and forcing you to run back where you started. Just my opinion


Hey, as long as we're going to live in a video-AI surveillance state, bus-lane cameras could neatly detect who entered the bus lane "before practicable".

Of course, the robot cars will not abuse the bus lane at all.


Maybe if she (and all of her supporters) stood in the driveways of these scofflaws and prevented them from going downtown then it may do some good. As is, she is endangering herself and others without providing relief. Not hero worthy in my book. More like the same attitude of the drivers minus the steel cage protection.
And its keyboard commandos she is commenting about. There is no evidence those people are also angry, disturbed drivers. Just the same cyber drivel you can find anywhere on any subject.
Also, the use of the bus lanes by cars when the buses are not present actually adds to the efficient movement of traffic as encountered. The situation is what it is. A human traffic cone just complicates an already complicated environment.


@19 This is the rare case in police program proposals where the question of funding has an obvious answer. Even people who habitually break traffic laws do pay their tickets, sooner or later.

But whattabout homeless people, right? Whattabout whattabout?


"Enforcement is the only way to change this. A cop in a lawn chair could hand out tickets all day all around the city. A camera could do an even easier/better job. Block the intersection? Ticket. Drive in the restricted lane? Ticket. Don’t stop, don’t yield, talk/text/post/email, don’t signal, speed, or any of the other myriad laws drivers break all day every day? Ticket."

I'm not sure what's broken about Seattle traffic downtown but enforcement is certainly part of it. I remember being stuck in traffic when I had the misfortune to be downtown on Boren one day and watching endless illegal right turns 2-3 blocks in front of me, causing the traffic I was in to take 15-20 minutes to travel one block. All that would have been necessary to get the traffic moving (not in the direction where the drivers making the illegal turns wanted to go, but, bummer...) was an officer standing in the intersection. Given that the police don't seem to do any actual crime fighting, I don't see why they couldn't stand around for a couple of hours every afternoon frustrating scofflaws.

Oh well.

Anyway, thumbs up to bus lady.

Meanwhile Muedede's analysis of human psychology is as bizarre and deranged as usual.


I see your point about the entitlement a $40K car has on its driver. But every Saturday morning dozens of those same drivers block traffic on country roads, their $1.2K bicycles bestowing the same sense of entitlement. The people of modern Easter Island have a secure livelihood from tourists who come to view the Moai which were erected by the original islanders at the expense of their civilization. Perhaps I should move near a scrapyard, buy a funnel cake maker and await the flying saucer cruise ships.


Uh oh. Muedede's thesis depends on Twitter being representative of real people and not bots and trolls. For that matter, the whole thing is a majority minority explanation, where a few people suddenly become representatives for the population at large. It also somehow assumes we aren't as***les the rest of the time, which... yeah, I am not sure that we would really find true. Just look at people in the average comments section, or at political rallies or just at work.

That said, Seattle certainly has a problem with rewarding bad behavior. Also, as some other commenters said, the whole right turn situation can become pretty ambiguous, and if we don't know what time of day it is, some of the bus lanes really aren't bus only (and even if this one is, it adds to the ambiguity). So we encourage bad habits through ambiguity AND reward people for doing the wrong thing by making the benefits far exceed the risks. The same is true of much of other Seattle policy from our failure to set reasonable penalties for excessive energy use (especially carbon fuel energy) to our demonizing of bile lane projects paired with total failure to make "bike routes" actually ridable. It's certainly not just a police problem, or a homelessness response problem.

As someone who actually drove a city bus, I also have to say that a car-pedestrian accident is going to cause a lot more of a problem for busses than some illegal bus lane use. While it's absolutely true that some police tag teams can and should increase SPD's revenue by sitting downtown and handing out tickets (and walking around residential areas, especially mostly privilaged white ones, and handing out tickets for overgrown sidewalks, trash cans in bike lanes, and improperly parked cars), for a private citizen to block traffic we are looking at both a system failure and an unreasonable personal risk. Also, raging against "wrongdoing" by cars is still its own version of hulking out.

Bottom line, two wrongs don't make a right (but three lefts yadda yadda). I'm not here to trash talk but please don't follow this example put yourself in harms way like this to "enforce" the law. However if you want to stand on the curb with your cell phone and film people breaking rules to shame them, eh, sure, whatever. And yes, let's absolutely vote for city council members with actual policy solutions rather than yard signs and vague promises about trust (looking at you district 4).


@28, ah, the hardships of Washington whine country.


This separation between marketing and experience is one of capitalism’s worst features. It extends to pretty much everything capitalism produces, not just cars, but burgers, phones, vacations, whatever marketers try to sell you. That continual nagging sense of disappointment is to me one of the hallmarks of capitalism where marketing is allowed free rein.

What products are the most satisfying? The small ones that don’t need marketing to move them, or the highly regulated ones where expectations are enforced. In orher words, those products where expectations largely match experience.


Interesting. Cars are like phones; something we can hide behind while expressing all our violent and aggressive opinions.


re: Enforcement. When was the last time you saw anyone get a ticket for anything other than speeding near the Aurora bridge or the annual "emphasis" at a school zone? There hasn't been traffic enforcement to speak of in Seattle for 20 years, and now we wonder why we have a generation of drivers who are comfortable ignoring the rules?
Try driving like a Seattleite anywhere else in this country and see how long your license lasts.


Fascinating view of human behavior and entitlement. As I read, I thought, this could also apply to gun owners, both law abiding and non law abiding ones.



Interestingly, the woman positioned herself just in front of an intersection, which appears to be at 6th and Olive, and yet none of the cars that had to move around her was using a turn signal, and not a single one of them made a right turn after passing her, because of course, 6th Avenue is one-way North. Thus, they shouldn't have been in the bus lane in the first place, even if they planned to make a right turn a full block further up the street.


A bus stop should never have been added to 6th and Union. There are drivers loading and unloading on both sides of the street with the WAC, City Centre, and the Sheraton one block down. That block is constantly jammed with cars and there's a crosswalk with a stop light right in the middle of it further complicating the flow of traffic. It's also a horrible place to wait for the bus since it's on a steep incline and there are no bus shelters or places to sit.


@36 Woops I confused Union with Olive, lol. Olive has similar problems with the streetcar, Westin, Pacific Place, and the Westlake Center being there. I've used both bus stops (and many more) for years and can't recall seeing anyone ever get pulled over for abusing the bus-only lanes and streets.


@36 - this is exactly my point. So many private cars and Uber/Lyft drivers are blocking up the streets that the buses don't have a prayer of getting through effectively. Get them out. Run a circulating downtown shuttle system - our downtown area is not big and it would not take much.

We are severely lacking in traffic enforcement. The schemes the City has put in to separate traffic are partly to blame (I think that some drivers genuinely don't understand them and some don't care). I regularly see people making a right turn from Dexter onto Mercer on the red light, despite large signs saying "No right on red" and a red arrow. This sends them right across the bike lane and the crosswalk. Only a matter of time until someone gets hurt or worse there.

Same for Bell St. (through traffic is barred, and the street is supposed to be pedestrian-friendly). Every day i see drivers going all the way through from 6th to 1st, and there has not been a cop stopping them for months.

Ditto the bus lanes. Cars are in them all the time all over.

All of these ideas to keep traffic safe are useless unless they are enforced. The City could bring in more than enough fines to pay for the enforcement if it chose to.


People...we all have phones with cameras. We bus riders just have to photograph offenders and send their photos into the police. I was doing so one day and the dumb ass Uber driver (who had a hulking bus right behind him) thought I was taking his photo because I wanted to call him later for a ride! Didn't seem to be aware he was holding up buses, stepped out of the car a bit to ask me "Do you need a ride?" NO asshole, get out of the fucking bus lane. Peer pressure folks...we all have cameras!


@39 they never do anything.

If only there were a number like 684-HERO, or maybe we could make it 68S-HERO ...

That's what Vancouver does. But they actually care about citizens who bike and use transit, not the suburban drivers who endanger them.


Fabulous article! I love that woman-hero. And yes, she would make a perfect Seattle flag. There are SO MANY ENTITLED ASSHOLES IN SEATTLE. (Note: Asshole is a gender non-specific term very suitable in this situation.) And could the entitled asshole Seattle drivers also STOP TEXTING BEHIND THE WHEEL.


Cars do sometimes need to turn right.


If only that app that lets you report pot holes and hobo encampments let you report traffic violations as well...


You left out the third transformation, the most severe: The driver mutates into a redneck with a pickup.



I see the same thing happening constantly at Westlake and Denny as well: some ass-wipe suddenly decides to make a left turn at a "no left turn" intersection, clogs the lane, and invariably flips of the cars behind them when they start honking. Dude (and 90% of the time it IS a dude), literally EVERYONE CAN SEE YOU making an illegal turn, so your sense of outrage at being called on it is just you erroneously thinking your sense of privilege is supposed to get you a free-pass.


Another meaningless thing for Seattleites to get holier than thou about. #thatwhathtistownneeds

This city stinks.


"… But the point of the video is to show the utter lack of enforcement of the bus-only rule in Seattle."

That's so cute how you bring up the concept of enforcement. Is there any law that Seattle cops enforce? Is enforcement a thing in Seattle? I see bicycle cops show up at marches and I see cop cars after accidents. Is something being enforced?


So how special that the city of Seattle is doing what it can to limit car use within the city limits (bus lanes, talk of usage metering...) Admirable, but nowhere on that list exist improvements to Metro. Ok, light rail may be in full force a year or two before I retire, but in today's reality there are route cuts, buses are predictably late (sometimes no-shows back things up more than an hour), loss of ride-free zones. And it's not the wealthy who absorb the bloodletting. I agree with all of the sentiments raised thus far, but until there is a viable alternative to driving it's an absolute joke to think any band-aids will change things here.


All you people who call this woman a hero is a hypocrite. She is no better than the people who are imposing their own rules and driving in the bus lane. The drivers don't like the bus lane law so break the rules. She doesn't like the drivers, so she breaks the rules (it's illegal to block or direct traffic). What's next? Civilians who drive slow in the left lane to force people to not drive over the speed limit? Civilians who report cars the second their parking meter expires? Wait, we have people that do this now, are they heroes? I really hate people who push their own beliefs on others and this is what this woman is doing. Civilians are not cops and should not police what they think is the law.

What's the solution? How about a creative way that people vote on? Like cameras similar to red light cameras? Or cameras on buses that the driver can use to report offenders? Or what if cops randomly enforce the rules more often (they don't have to police it all the time, but will people break the rules if the chance of getting caught is higher?)


Can't SDOT or SPD set up a volunteer force of bus lane enforcers similar to crossing guards? I'd gladly give 30 minutes after work a few days a week to help kick out drivers from bus lanes before biking home -- provided I'm giving a vest and a walkie-talkie or something semi-official looking by the City or SPD.


What's so bad about vigilantes in a world where cops serve white supremacy and all drivers are mini-Trumps?


I am glad the Mayor has announced that citizens can now enforce the bus lanes, as she announced when the bike lane opened yesterday.


Sorry but running out into the road and waving a flag at people for not stopping at stop signs, not yielding, not stopping at crosswalks or not driving in bus lanes is not only fucking dangerous. It is stupid as fuck. Won't stop anyone. And will probably get you shot and by shot I mean scowled at really bad because that is then equivalent of being shot in Seattle compared to Chicago. Seriously, left lane campers you're not helping. You just fucking suck.