Busted in Van

It was a perfect moment. Almost…Parisienne. We were riding cruiser bikes (mine had a basket) through a well-heeled area in West Vancouver. The sun was shining and the street was lined on both sides with perfectly groomed victorian homes, all appointed with professionally selected and planted blooming flowers, lush green shrubberies and sculpted hedges. We were en route to meet friends for lunch. There would be wine. All that was missing was the campy French accordion music. I was giddy with pleasure.

As we pulled up to an intersection we noticed two bike cops stopped at the light on the opposite side of the street. As we waited for the light to change, I knew we were busted and managed a weak smile in their direction. They turned to each other to discuss something. Likely the fact that we were not wearing helmets. In British Columbia it is against the law to not wear a helmet on a bike. Even a cute rented cruiser bike that you only intended to ride on charming side streets and wooded paths. Somehow the romance of the smartly dressed couple on cruiser bikes is ruined when you put rental buckets on their heads. I did not think the cops would understand this logic, or think it an acceptable defense. We had been warned by the barely English speaking kid at the rental shop that although they could not force us to wear helmets, it was the law, and we would be ticketed if caught. “Pshaw!” we thought. “Look how darling and smart we look on our funny cute cruiser bikes!”

After what seemed like an eternity the light changed and I prayed they would wave and pass us by, but instead they pulled in front of us, blocking our way t-bone style like they do in the movies when you’ve stolen a car. They immediately separated us and proceeded with an interrogation right out of Law and Order. “Do you know what you did wrong, sir?” “How are you today ma’am?”. So cunning, so relentless… At first I played innocent and denied any knowledge of the laws. Being from Winnipeg, and a blonde, I thought they might buy it. Then they started asking questions about the shop where we had rented the bikes. Had they not told us about the helmet law? Had they even offered helmets for our use? I totally cracked like an egg under the pressure, imagining the foreign kid and his whole family turfed out onto the street after the shop gets hit with a massive fine for failing to inform patrons of local laws. Next thing I know I’m spilling everything, apologizing, saying we were stupid and careless and made a terrible mistake. I may have even told them I stole a nail polish from the mall when I was 13.

They let us off without a ticket, with the wink and nod to let us know that once we were out of sight, we were on our own and it would be our own damn fault if we ended up under a car with our miniscule brains splattered on the pavement. Point taken and serves me right for breaking one of the 10 commandments.