Sunday, October 26, 2008

Adventures in the Bus Lijn

Traffic in Eindhoven, be it car (auto), bicycle (fiets), or bus (bus!) is extraordinarily organized. There are bike lanes, bus lanes, and regular lanes; there are stop lights for each individual lane, no right-on-red, stop lights for the bike lanes, pedestrian crossing lights, and bus-specific signals as well. Very organized, yes, but also potentially confusing -- I've found myself driving into both in the bus lane as well as the bike lane!

The traffic flow at each intersection is carefully choreographed in a way that is still unintelligible to me. I recall simple American intersections where the only uncertainty a driver has is whether the left-turn arrow turns green before the straight-ahead traffic or after... Here, you wait and watch a lane from somewhere allowed to go, then some pedestrians allowed, then something else to happen, maybe a bus goes by, and suddenly you get to go. It's easy to get distracted while waiting, and nearly impossible to "jump the gun" and go before your light is green, because you really have no idea whose turn is next. No chance of the common-in-Rochester "New York left-turn," which is the quick-off-the-line left before the regular traffic gets going.

Anyway, I have been meaning to write about my adventure in the Bus Lijn for more than a week, mostly because I wanted a good illustration of an Eindhoven intersection to show all this confusion clearly. Behold exhibit A, conveniently viewed from our temporary apartment on the 7th floor:
In this photo, you'll notice many lanes going many directions. In the center are the bus lanes, indicated by the large white letters spelling BUS as well as the actual bus. On either side of the bus lanes, normal auto lanes, and further out, bike lanes, which tend to have pinkish pavement and crossings marked with big white squares. Beyond those, pedestrian sidewalks, with crossings marked with little white dashes. The opposing street has all of these except bus lanes.

So the other weekend, when we still had our rental car, I managed to drive in the bus lane (bus lijn, pronounced like bus line) as well as the bike lane (fietspad)... The bike path was just a quick oops, kind of like cutting the corner too close. Later, I hung a left, and before I knew it, I was driving over the words BUS LIJN, with grassy medians on either side, and I couldn't do anything about it. Strangely, there was another car further down the block, also in the bus lane. I guess it happens!


ljc said...

Where do scooters ride? Car lane? Bike lane?

MJM said...

It seems that scooters and mopeds go pretty much anywhere they please. Some bike path signs have both bikes and mopeds pictured; others have just bikes. Scooter kids can be seen and heard buzzing around everywhere -- in the pedestrian zones, wherever...