Arrogance of the State

I know this is just a trivial example, but somehow it seems to be representative for me of a larger class of legislation - yield to the state!

In 2009, Colorado legislators passed the Yield to Bus Law to help transit agencies that were finding that the inability of buses to get quickly back into the traffic flow after a stop was hurting their on-time performance.

Steamboat Springs Transit helped push for the law after it had to add time to routes to stay on schedule because too often its buses were boxed in by traffic at stops, said Philo Shelton, director of Steamboat's public works department, which runs the 24-bus transit operation....

The hope is that motorists will get in the habit of yielding, thereby minimizing the need for enforcement of the law, officials say.  (via the antiplanner)

That does seem to be the point - produce citizens that are in the habit of yielding to the state.   Because we all know that having the state's bus full of empty seats stay on schedule is far more important than the schedule of all the little people around it.  When government schedules don't work, what do they do?  Change the schedules?  No!  Change the behavior of the citizenry so the schedules can be made to work.  Nothing wrong with the schedules - its all you folks who are broken.


  1. me:

    Taibbi's "Griftopia" made the interesting point that a lot of the tea party movement can be explained as a rather natural reaction against exactly this type of reduction of freedom in everyday life (while unfortunately and ironically having been coopted to instead seek freedom for the top 1000 or so who actually benefit if everybody else's freedom is thus reduced).

    What irks me especially about this particular example (call me Mr Road Rage) is that in my experience the kind of traffic that causes buses to be locked in is typically caused by overly cautious regulation (short green light periods, separate left-turn signal, stupidly low speed restrictions).

  2. schlew:

    These kind of local traffic rules also have the effect of penalizing out of town/state drivers who may not be familiar with such local ordinance. As I don't live in Colorado, that unfamiliarity leaves me at risk of a citation when I fail to yield to a bus trying to enter traffic. Or maybe that is just a feature...

  3. David:

    One thing I found notable when I visited Zurich was that the trams have the right of way over all other traffic types, including pedestrians (!)

    This does lead to the "you can set your watch by them" type of performance, and that is very helpful when determining whether one needs to own a car. In Zurich, lots of folks don't, and rely almost entirely on the trams. Reliability is absolutely a prerequisite for, well, relying on the service to live one's daily life.

  4. Andre:

    In NJ, the busses have a sticker on the back stating "yield to bus - it's the law". I assume they mean that literally (I have not personally confirmed the existence of such a law). But the result is that bus drivers pulling away from the curb (or into the Lincoln Tunnel) do not give a rat's rear end what's next to them or coming down the road. After all, if they hit you, it's you who are at fault for "failing to yield".

  5. Max:

    OH just wait for it, in a few years, you will have imported another European habit: Bus lanes. They will just use one of two automobile lanes and convert it to a buslane. Then they will make special traffic lights for those busses so that they have a priority switch (just like trams/light rail/trains) and there you go: European Traffic nightmares arriveth.

  6. smurfy:

    To piggyback on Max's comment, changing the yield law is a hell of a lot cheaper than Buss Rapid Transit lanes, which are in turn a hell of a lot cheaper than light rail. In that light, the yield law would be the lesser of the possible evils.

    What I find repugnant isn't the 'yield to the state' component so much as enforcing the idea that there is some sort of moral hierarchy along the lines of transit rider> pedestrian > cyclist> car driver. I definitely bought into that sort of moral hierarchy and climbed onto a pretty high horse during the years after college when i eschewed my car for transit and a bicycle. Just another environmental guilt trap and guilt does not lead to good thinking on transit issues.

  7. Hasdrubal:

    Up here in Minnesota we have the poor man's version of bus lanes: Busses are allowed to drive on the shoulder of highways. So, when you're already angry at being snarled in rush hour traffic you also have the joy of getting out of the way or getting run over as busses merge back onto the roadway when they come up on overpasses or exit ramps.

  8. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society:

    > This does lead to the “you can set your watch by them” type of performance, and that is very helpful when determining whether one needs to own a car. In Zurich, lots of folks don’t, and rely almost entirely on the trams. Reliability is absolutely a prerequisite for, well, relying on the service to live one’s daily life.

    David, Europe's population density in most places approaches, and even exceeds that of the New England states.

    Such services may well work as preferable to cars with that kind of density, but most areas of the USA lack such density.

    And as far as why it's needful to pass a law to do this, it's because the line of friggin' cars that are being slowed to the bus's speed want to get past the POS so they can actually get somewhere.

    If busses were constrained to four-lane or better highways then there'd be fewer people unwilling to let them out.

    I've seen situations in this college town were the buses, which run every 12 minutes along some routes at certain times of day, massively interfere with traffic by constantly starting and stopping the flow of traffic, leading to a 2 mile long line of cars trapped behind it.

    This, mind you, is along routes already badly clogged because the city keeps electing idiots who allow development far out in the county but don't want to actually spend that "impact fee revenue" on expanding the roads. We have a good 4 or 5 two-lane roadways that should have been four-laned more than 20 years ago -- BEFORE they added the traffic from still more developments to them.

  9. me:


    Ugh, yes, I can assert from personal experience that bus lanes are horrible. We've got them here (and actually much more and much worse implementations than in Germany) in addition to the stupid yield laws. Makes for a very angry commute ;)