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Bus Stops, Parking Signs -- and School Safety

As a city reporter, I often get to story assignments by bus if I can, preferring to see the District through a big bus window instead of a dark Metro tunnel. I have also found the city's winding bus routes an asset if I need to get to a story assignment that's not along a blue, red, orange, green, or yellow dot of a Metro stop.

Here's something I've noticed about city life when it comes to bus stops, parking signs -- and school safety. When transportation officials decide to move or change a bus stop, sometimes the parking signs don't come along for the ride.

Case in point: In Northwest, near the intersection of Sherman Ave and Euclid Street, the bus stop for the 68 bus was moved a few feet south, which I realized recently when I got to the corner and the stop wasn't there. However temporarily jarring, this wasn't noteworthy until the bus pulled up and I saw that it couldn't swing to the curb to pick up passengers because a car was parked in the bus zone. The car should have gotten a ticket, except that the city's Department of Transportation or DDOT, its preferred government acronym, hasn't updated the parking signs to reflect the new bus zone.

The 68 bus on a March morning. Old signage directs cars to park in the bus zone, preventing the bus from picking up of passengers at the curb. (By Theola Labbé)

Small potatoes? Maybe. But with the opening of Nationals Stadium this weekend and continuing conversation over neighborhood parking near the new Columbia Heights mall DCUSA, the key to avoiding mishaps and limiting traffic congestion is directly tied to getting the small things right -- things like updated and accurate parking signs.

There's also a potential safety issue for D.C. public school students. The bus stop is a half-block west of Benjamin Banneker High School. On any given morning you'll see Banneker students disembarking the 68 bus at that Sherman Ave and Euclid Street stop. With the bus stop change, now those students step out into the street instead of the curb.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) pledged under the schools takeover that all city agencies would come together and support education. To that end, DDOT and the D.C. Public Schools recently announced a pilot program, Safe Routes to School, where eight schools will be selected for a program that will make it "safer, more convenient and more fun" for students to walk or ride a bike to school. So far, buses aren't covered under the pilot, according to the press release, which describes some of the program goals as "fixing safety problems...and working with police to enforce traffic laws."

So what do you think- does excluding buses under the new schools/transportation pilot program leave a gap? What kind of bus and parking issues have you seen around the city?

Theola Labbé

By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  March 28, 2008; 7:10 AM ET
Categories:  City Life  
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Next: Life After D.C. Schools: Brady, Ackerman


I believe that bus stops should have a curb stop (similar to those in parking lots)perpendicular to the street curb to mark the bus zone area. I believe this would cut down on illegal parking in bus stops.

Posted by: cgsimpson | March 29, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

The Safe Routes to Schools Program is a Federal-Aid program of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Program was created by Section 1404 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users Act (SAFETEA-LU). The SRTS Program is funded at $612 million over five Federal fiscal years (FY 2005-2009) and is to be administered by State Departments of Transportation (DOTs).

The Program provides funds to the States to substantially improve the ability of primary and middle school (K-8)students to walk and bicycle to school safely. The purposes of the program are:

1. to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school
2. to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and
3. to facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity (approximately 2 miles) of primary and middle schools (Grades K-8).

Each State administers its own program and develops its own procedures to solicit and select projects for funding. The program establishes two distinct types of funding opportunities: infrastructure projects (engineering improvements) and non-infrastructure related activities (such as education, enforcement and encouragement programs). More detail on eligible projects, as well as program set-up is provided in the SRTS Program Guidance document.

Buses and school busing issues are excluded from receiving funds under this federal program; however, improved and safe environments for users of DC's buses are important!

Posted by: glenedharrison | March 31, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

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