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By Jordan W. Charness

Sometimes you just can’t believe what you see. Sometimes you hear stories about people you’re sure could not possibly be true. Sometimes what you see and what you hear make absolutely no sense – yet nonetheless, these things really happen.

Picture this scene. It’s true; I saw it myself. I couldn’t quite believe it, yet I really did see it.

It was nice out: a sunny day. It was about 5:10 pm., a particularly busy time of day on the street. There are many office buildings that have just let out thousands of workers who finished at 5 p.m. Rush-hour had begun in earnest and although this is a fairly wide street, it was somewhat congested.

In theory, there is at least one lane that is reasonably free of traffic. It is the bus lane that runs alongside the sidewalk on both sides of the street. This lane is exclusively reserved for buses and taxis from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Naturally, this is also the lane that is closest to the front doors of all of these office buildings.

Very often you will see cars pull into the bus lane in front of an office building to pick up someone who has just finished work. Although you may park in these lanes any other time of the day, you are absolutely forbidden to park there during the reserved times.

It stands to reason that if you are not allowed to park in the bus lane during the reserved time slot you are also forbidden to stop in the bus lane. If you couldn’t figure that out on your own, the big signs that say “No Stopping” should be a pretty big hint. If that hint was not strong enough, there are now new signs that warn of a $200 fine for stopping during the restricted hours.

One would think that all of the above would be sufficient to convince a driver not to enter these lanes so he or she would not disrupt bus and taxi traffic. The disruption is in fact worse than just disrupting the bus lane: a spinoff effect can cause a traffic jam for blocks.

When a bus or a taxi has to manoeuvre around a parked car that has plunked itself in the middle of the bus lane, it will be forced to enter the lane of traffic immediately to its left. During rush-hour this lane is usually full of traffic. Since buses are bigger than cars, they can usually bully themselves into a congested traffic lane. In addition, in some cases a bus actually has a right-of-way and is allowed to push in.

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