My commute in to work (and towards camp for the kids) leads down a long straight hill with a divided road, two lanes of traffic going in each direction and a big wide bike lane for the bicycles. Which is good because the traffic here moves fast and a skinny bike lane would be scary. Part way down the hill there is an intersection. Here the road fans out with three additional lanes (bringing our total to five lanes for just one direction! Those lucky cars! Has anyone ever seen five bike lanes? Yeah I didn't think so) with two for car-people going left, two for car-people going straight, one for car-people turning right. The bike lane turns into a skinny avenue between the right hand lane and the straight lane.
So far so good.
Car is heading downhill towards the intersection. They wish to take a right on red. The straight-going traffic is way backed up however, waiting for a green. What to do?
If you guessed "drive down the bike lane" you would be correct. Which happens to be illegal but whatever.
So this morning we are riding down the bike lane towards the red light. Contraption Captain, Sparkle Pony, and then me pulling Rapunzel. As a bicyclist I am a noticer and as a bicyclist mom out with her kids I am a noticer times ten thousand so here is what I notice:
1. The back of a black car that is pulled entirely off the road. A person standing by the car.
2. I see a newer generic Red Car pull out of car lane and into bike lane.
#1 is not in the bike lane at all and has no brake lights etc so it's dropping off my radar.
#2 makes me shake my head and laugh and feel annoyed all at the same time. It's not a close call or anything but people abruptly pulling into the bike lane like this open the door to people pulling into the bike lane on top of me or one of my family. I have no desire to be mounted by 3,000 pounds of hot red metal, thanks.
Then what happens?
1. I see the person by the car move into the bike lane.
2. I see Red Car pull *back* into the car lane.
What do I think?
"Ohhh, hey, that's so sweet and hopeful!! Red Car must have seen my nice family and done the right thing." Except maybe not. Now I see what Red Car has noticed. That black car on the shoulder is a POLICE CAR OMFG! POLICE! POLICE!! POLIIIIIICE! YOU ARE SO SCREWED!
Cop is holding a camera in his hand. Cop has clearly photographed Red Car doing the Naughty. Red Car tries to hide among the other cars but Cop gestures angrily that Red Car needs to pull over so he can be spanked as an example to all the other commuters. Driving to work having already blown a chunk of your paycheck on a donation to your local PD is so civic minded. Or something.
Cop sees the three bicyclists and one wagon check their progress and gestures us through.