Over the past few weeks the Traffic Division has been busily painting the new Bus Lanes on Pratt St. Starting on the 17th the city placed Variable Message Signs up alerting drivers that the lanes would go into effect on December 28th.
Yesterday, being the 28th, I took a walk down to Pratt St after work during the evening rush to see how things were going with the new bus lanes. What I saw brought me to the conclusion that "bus lanes are only effective if properly enforced". I stopped along Pratt at Commerce for a few minutes and watched as about two dozen cars zoomed along the bus lanes as if nothing had ever changed. Apparently they were oblivious to the new solid white lines, Bus Lane pavement markers, and Bus/Bike/Right Turn only signs. I would have to say that some of the culprits were taxi drivers, but most were everyday drivers not paying attention. (Thankfully, the bikers were being smart and stayed in the protected bike lane on the inside of the orange barrier.)
Suprisingly, I didn't see any Police or Traffic Officers writing tickets! Generally speaking, if you want to get the word out, the lanes need to be enforced. Unfortunately, I just don't see this happening in Baltimore. Maybe things were different in the AM rush, maybe, but I only saw what was going on in the PM.
Suggestion to the City: if you want some turn around on your investment, first of all get the cars out of the Bus Lanes. Secondly, consider painting the lanes another color like many other cities