Thursday, March 20, 2014

How did she do this I don't even

I'll admit, I stole that title. It was a tweet by Cassandra Fulgham (@cfulgham) in response to this:

I'll give you a chance to look at that. Maybe another angle?

Or an aerial view perhaps?

(The pictures are courtesy @auxonic, @rjeschmi, and @chrisjschmitt, respectively.)

Yup, folks. That is someone who actually drove down Laurier Ave., needed to park, and somehow pulled up into the space in front of the alley on the right, between the concrete dividers, and verrrrry carefully backed into the segregated bike lane, between the divider and the curb. Then got out of her car, fed the meter, and headed off to do whatever she was on Laurier to do. (I say "she" because the license plate reads "CF MOM" and I assume she was doing something in the Canadian Forces office at 66 Slater.) 

Unless, of course, she'd been driving in the bike lane for the last couple of blocks, thinking it was just some sort of . . . collector lane. Who knows.

What goes through this person's head? "Oh, look, segregated parking, how nice!" I can't begin to go through the things that hurt my brain about this. For one thing, if it's "segregated parking," how in the name of all that's holy would anyone else get in to use it, now that she's parked in the opening? Also, how did she miss the bike lane signs? What did she think the concrete dividers were for? How tricky was it, exactly, to back in between them? Did she wonder why the other two cars were parked on the other side of the barriers?

It's a baffling (and giggle-inducing) mystery. But also, it really kind of points out to me: this is one of only two segregated bike lanes in the city that I'm aware of (the other being on Wellington near the War Museum). Like the green bike boxes, it's not something people immediately understand when they see it. (Apparently.)

I'll give this person the benefit of the doubt: maybe she didn't see the bike lane signs, in the cluster of street signs that are all over downtown. Maybe she doesn't come downtown often, and hadn't known that Laurier had an SBL. If this kind of thing were more common, people would know how to use it, but like any new system, there's a learning curve. The fact that this lady, when confronted with an SBL, had no idea what to do with it, is maybe more of a sign that there's still a long way to go in informing the general public about the increasing amount of bike infrastructure.

I'm reminded of my father's metaphor (from a totally different context) of having someone over for dinner and, when the dinner's over, they get up, thank the hosts, and stuff all the silverware in their pockets as they're getting ready to go. They're not being malicious or criminal, they are just from a totally different culture.

We're in a world where drivers still think bikes aren't allowed on the streets, where they're utterly oblivious to the existence and use of bike boxes, and where they think it's okay to undertake a bike on a left turn, as long as they leave a metre of space.

There's a lot of misinformation and ignorance out there. It's just that very seldom is it as obvious and entertaining as this bit of boneheadedness.

(It should also be noticed that this whole flurry of pictures and the resulting Twitter conversation also illustrated something: if you want to get Mayor Watson's attention, tweet him. He reads those suckers, and responds, and passes the information along to the right people. He's a bit of a twitterbeast.)

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