Monday, November 22, 2010

Bus Lane Alert

From my parking spot today, I saw a fleet of four pedicabs pulling mini-billboards that said “Bus Lanes Are for Buses—$115 Fine.” They were headed east, toward First and Second Avenues, where new cameras have been installed to catch cars violating the bus-only lanes. Like the red-light cameras, the bus-lane cameras, which go in effect today (Monday), will be another huge ka-ching for the city. This is from the online Wall Street Journal: “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says ‘the city's 2.8 million bus riders have been held hostage for far too long by motorists who routinely block bus lanes.’… Vehicles will be allowed to enter a bus lane only to make the next available right turn or to quickly discharge or pick up passengers.”

Everything happens at once. The pedicab ads went by just as the Broom was passing. Though I backed up as far as possible last Monday after the S.U.V. in front of me pulled out, there still was not quite enough room for two cars, so a motorcycle had filled in the blank. Its scofflaw owner failed to show up. The street sweeper—the man, not the machine—seeing the motorcycle in front of me and a van in the commercial space behind me, knew that he wouldn’t be able to get in and out of my spot, so although I started my engine, in a show of good faith, he didn't make me move.

But as my head was turned, some urban Hansel and Gretel must have walked up the street, because suddenly the pigeons reappeared on the sidewalk outside my car door, pecking at microscopic breadcrumbs. Among the birds were some sparrows, and among the sparrows a blond. I seem to be parked in a bird-watching zone. Ahead was a ginkgo tree in full yellow.

Meanwhile, at Broadway and Twenty-third, there was a truck with the word Arctic on it. I thought it was a promotion for some freezing-cold beverage, and headed for the tent to get my free sample. Despite the fact that it is unseasonably mild today, there was snow on the ground and people were bundled up in mittens and mufflers and earmuffs. When I got to the kiosk, a man was turning people away. They were not giving away free samples. They were making a movie.

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