Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Breaking the Law

I completely neglected to mention on Friday that I got a ticket for running a light on my bike. I came through a busy intersection in Cambridge, and there was a bike cop detail there snaring cyclists for blowing through the light. I didn't even wait for them to pull me over. I just rode right up to them. They seemed surprised.

They said, "Do you know why we stopped you?" And I said, "Of course, that's why I just stopped." I admitted my wrong-doing. I implored them to write an equal number of tickets for motorists failing to signal and driving in the bike lane. They said they would do that. I took my ticket and left.

That ticket bothered me. I simmered and steamed all the way to work. I won't go into all the reasons, because truthfully, I deserved the ticket. I broke the law. Every reason I can and did cook up is just my ego screaming for the world to be different than it really is. There shouldn't be so many cars. Cars should drive better. Blah. Blah. Blah.

There are red lights. You're supposed to stop. I didn't.

Not only did I not stop, but I willfully blow through lights. I posted here not that long ago about lights and small rebellion I make against them. This ticket (which turned out to be just a warning after I looked at it more closely) provided a fresh canvas for me to work out my feelings about laws and lights and bicycles and cars. I mean, what if I got a ticket every week, at $20 a pop?

Would I continue my scofflaw ways?

Probably not. $20 a week is $80 a month less to spend on bike shit. That what law enforcement types call "effective deterrence." So what does that mean about quality of my rebellion? If I can be silenced for $20 a week, I must not be very rebellious, eh? I suppose I could just not pay the tickets. I mean, are they going to take my bike? Suspend my license to ride? My license to ill? I could call their bluff.

I could end up being thrown in Cambridge City Jail, ignominiously, for failure to pay up, have my shoelaces taken away. Imagine explaining to the felon next to you in the holding tank that you're in for blowing off bicycle violations. I'm thinking he'd ass rape you on principle.

A friend of mine, after I told him about the ticket, told me he doesn't speed anymore. And I asked, "Why? Too many tickets?" And he said, "No. None. It's just easier to do the right thing. Much less to think about."

You know, I fancy myself some kind of cycling outlaw, some sort of cutting edge urban warrior. But you know what I am?

A commuter.

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