Pulled Over!

While I have been struggling to find the time to recap my wonderful day last Friday at the Complete Streets Forum, I’ve finally had to put that on the back burner for a more real-time update. I’ve been doing a fair amount of riding in the high, chilly winds over the last few days but had a bummer run in this morning on Queen W that I have to recount.

I was heading from Dark Horse on Spadina over to 221 Yonge St when I was stopped at a red light on Queen at St Patrick St. Straight ahead, the entire right lane was blocked, as well as the sidewalk, by construction crews, police, and barricades. To my left was already a line of cars. I waited through 97% of the red, saw the other signal turn red, and proceeded through the intersection with few good pedals. I cut into the street car lane (over the track) when an officer jumped in front of my bike and yelled at me to stop. I slammed the breaks on, balanced myself (i wear clips when riding, and had a heavy pannier on one side), and calmed myself quickly to get off of the bike.

I immediately became a bit frustrated, knowing that this was going to be about running a red light that I only hardly jumped…my frustration grew quickly from there.

To begin with, the office accused me of having no intention of stopping, saying I wasn’t going to stop. Aside from seeming a moot point as I was stopped, this was in no way true. I responded “I obviously did stop, and never had no intention of blowing by, but it takes a moment to stop a bike especially when you’re trying to get in front of traffic for protection”

Construction at St Patrick's and Queen

“Are you calling me a liar?” The officer retorted

Oh man…a type-cast officer…I responded “no sir” and realized this whole stop was going to be a scenario of my negotiating to get away from what was viewed as my egregious assault on the the greater good. The next comment suprised me:

“i know you’re a courier and you couriers are causing all kinds of havoc at this corner and all over town…blowing lights and making people jump out of the way”

Whoa…profiled. I guess I was a bit too courier-like today. When I responded that I work in the financial industry, the officer went immediately into the ticket for $375 he was about to give me…and how i was the same as all the other traffic and that he didn’t think that I could afford a $375 ticket being that I was a courier (i thought we cleared that up?).

Eventually, after we determined that I had dealt a serious blow to the law, and that I was sorry, and that the officer was doing me a big favor by sparing me the ticket (which, realistically, he was), I asked if I could explain myself with this being the gist of my defense:

If you look at this intersection and the construction going on, there is no thought as to accomodating myself and other cyclists. The entire sidewalk is blocked and pedestrians are instructed to cross. There are 6 inches of concrete not blocked by fencing before the left lane starts, then another 2 inches and there is a streetcar track. Given the heavy equipment, the street car track, and the cars next to me, it is in my best interest and that of all other road users, for me to get safely in front of traffic where I can be seen and not have to tightrope along the streetcar track. I waited until the crosswalk was set to do not cross, until the cross traffic light was red, and then may have, admittedly, jumped the light. That said, my livelihood is more important and valuable to me than $375.

End all was my being agitated not just with the aggressive way I was approached but with everyone that adds to the atmosphere of aggressiveness in the city. All road users have to play nicely to make the city work. 2 blocks later, a truck turning right onto Yonge from Queen (which is clearly marked as not allowed) ran gently into my leg as it tried to sneak through a mass of pedestrians just beyond the bike lane. Everyone should approach the roads with a respect for those around them and, in that, I can completely agree with the officer.

With both this space, and one pictured here on Bloor, I also wonder if Bike lanes are part of the resurfacing. With the road torn up, why not now? I for one would prefer 20 meters or one block of marked bike lane on Queen, Bloor, or any other major bikeway than none at all.

Photo of construction (hopefully not too late), ride updates, and coverage of the Complete Streets Forum still to come…

Rides since Thursday:

Complete Streets Forum April 23 5.14km
To and from the Complete Streets Forum

St Lawrence Market April 24 2.67km
St Lawrence Market

Greenliving Show April 25 14.44km
GreenLiving Show<br/

Work and Back April 27 40.71km
Work out and back

Around town April 28 14.67km
04/28/2010 Route

Since March 20, 2010
Total KM Ridden: 307.27
Total $ Saved: $143

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One Response to “Pulled Over!”

  1. HeidiTee Says:

    Damn courier!

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