The Accidental Fugitive
(Inspired by actual events)
It would be an exaggeration to say he blew through the stop sign where Laverne t-bones into Duchess Street. Coasted would be a more appropiate description, but by the time he saw the patrol car on the other side of the intersection he was halfway across Laverne and it was way too late to do anything about it except just keep going and pray to the cycling gods that the cops staring at him from inside the black and white had better things to do than bust a bicyclist.
But they didn’t. Before he was fully passed them they’d hit the lights and chirped the siren and he thought “fuck!” and slowed to pull over at the curb, not even a semi-truck’s length away from the entrance to the westbound bike path that ran alongside the creek, which wound its way down past the marina to empty into the bay.
That’s when he realized the entrance was too narrow for a vehicle to follow and thought, why not? And instead of stopping he just kept on casually pedaling and banking right up the apron and across the sidewalk and the bikeway entrance while unseen behind him the cop car got stuck on the tight street and had to make a three-pointer out of the U-turn they’d started.
The siren chirped again longer this time and “Bicyclist! Halt!” came out of the vehicle’s public address speaker, but he didn’t listen, pretending not to hear. He just continued onward along the downslope of the incline past the gate, where his bike picked up speed, but he didn’t add to it by pedaling. He didn’t want to look as if he was making a blatant attend at evasion of any sort, just that he hadn’t heard or seen the commotion.
In the rearview mirror attached to his helmet, he watched as the front end of the patrol car bobbed to a stop after being driven up the apron to the entrance gate. The officer driving realized there wasn’t enough room to initiate a pursuit. Immediately thereafter the siren blew at full volume and from the PA came, “Bicyclist on the bike path! Stop now!”
Heart pounding hard, he kept going. Transitioning from the incline to the flat of the bike path it felt as if the cops stares burned holes through him and he fought the urge to pedal like a bat out of hell. Instead he just casually started cranking, moving himself and the bike around a bend and out of cops’ sight lines. Almost immediately he began to relax, calmed by the serene and silent setting that seemed not just far away but days removed from what he’d just left behind him.
He wondered to himself what might be the worst that could happen, but he already knew that answer. If the duo were cowboys, they’d already be speeding Code Three with a vengeance to cut him off at the proverbial pass, or in this case Highridge the next major street that crosses the creek. But if they were total whipcracking hardcases, he supposed they’d stay put in case he tried to double back and radio in for backup — maybe even helicopter support and any available motorcycle units to prowl the path — in an effort to lock down the creek’s access points downstream and close in on him.
He thought briefly about changing his look; shedding his helmet and jacket — hell he could even convert the hiking pants he wore to shorts by unzipping the legs. But all that struck him as silly. Maybe if he was a drug dealer or a carjacker reeking of desperation and a third-strike conviction such measures would make sense, but a bike commuter rolling a stop sign? Get real. If the call went out for a cyclist wearing a brightly colored helmet and a blue windbreaker then that’s what they’d find.
Halfway between Queen and Highridge, the sudden flatulent chopping sound of a banking copter somewhere close cut through the quiet and he came to a quick skidding stop, his heart in his throat. It wouldn’t have surprised him much had bloodhounds started baying off in the distance, and he waited for the civilian equivalent of an Apache whirlybird to materialize overhead.
Instead the steady thwoking sound diminished and his heart rate started to slow. As he started pedaling again he was left feeling a bit silly and wondering if stopping would’ve been the less stressful thing to do. In fact he knew so, and just as abruptly as he’d decided to run so did he turn around to head back to Queen in part because it was the right thing to do and also because he was afraid he’d flat out faint if he rounded the bend that would bring the Highridge overpass into view and saw so much as a bike cop stationed on it.
A minute later with the Queen overpass coming into view he was surprised to find it devoid of law enforcement. Relief overtook him and he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when he moved up the incline and the entrance at the top was clear. Exiting through the gate and stopping on the sidewalk, he looked north and south seeing only civilian vehicles. Heading south on Queen to Jackson he took a right turn and in a couple minutes of pedaling he arrived at the red light at Highridge here several blocks below the creek. He didn’t want to look up the street, but did, and his head snapped back forward when he saw the solitary black and white parked on the bridge, every light on it flashing and its two uniformed occupants standing on the bridge looking eastward.
He thought for a moment about riding over to them. But then the light turned green and instead he rode onward, feeling a little bit sick and more than a little bit triumphant.