Rules of the Road: Are WTA buses allowed to run a red light in Bellingham?

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 21, 2013 

Question: Are buses allowed to "run" the red light at Lakeway Drive and Lincoln Street in Bellingham?

Answer: What people are seeing there is a queue jump lane, according to Maureen McCarthy of Whatcom Transportation Authority. She sent the question and answer to the Rules of the Road column. Here is her explanation of it:

"A queue jump lane is a traffic control device that gives special preference to certain vehicles at intersections. The city of Bellingham helped us out with a transit queue jump lane on Lakeway at Lincoln Street, to help our buses stay on time. Here's how it works:

"At the stoplight westbound on Lakeway, there's a turn lane on the right. Though it's turn only for motorists, our buses are allowed to go straight. A specially timed signal here can detect the presence of our bus and will give it a green light before the lights turn green for the other lanes. This head start allows our bus to 'jump the queue' and reach the travel lanes in advance of the waiting cars."

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Rules of the Road is an online forum with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices. To ask a question, use this form.

David Wright is a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.

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