Scoot Commute

Survival of the Fittest

Posted in Buddy St. Tropez (Franz Biberkopf), Daily Commute by sbahn on 2010/09/28

When I see people doing stupid things on the streets of Providence, I imagine picking them up and dropping them off in New York to see how long they would last. A week? A day? A few hours? Today was one of those days.

Stupid thing #1
I’m at a red light where I need to turn left onto Broadway. I’m the head of the line, one car behind me. A girl/woman was walking on the sidewalk, messing with her phone. She steps off the curb, without even looking, and into my path as the light turns green for me. I gun up the throttle with the brake on to see if that will at least get a look out of her. Nothing. So much for the growl of the Prima pipe. As she’s almost out of my path, I let go of the brake and start to pull out to make the turn. I keep the scoot as close as possible to her backside as I maneuver the scoot between manhole covers (it’s raining a bit and the covers are slippery) in an effort to freak her out a bit so next time she’ll look before crossing a street. As I finished the turn, I looked back and she was staring at me. Finally got her to look.

Score? I’d give her less than 24 hours in New York.

Stupid thing #2
As I’m riding up River Avenue, I see a Cadillac pull up to a stop sign at a cross street. Well, it sorta stops. I stare over at the driver, keeping my eye on his tires, wondering if he’s actually going to stop or just thinking about it. He eventually does stop and I continue on my merry way. Very, very old people in big Cadillacs…don’t take your eyes off of them.

I’ve been suspecting for some time that there is a faster cut-through on some side streets off of River Avenue, and today my suspicion was confirmed. As I come to the weirdy intersection at Whitford and Smith Streets, the Cadillac runs his stop sign and pulls out directly in front of me. He never turned his head to look. The only reason he eventually saw me was because his wife poked him and pointed toward the driver’s side window. Because cars usually barrel out of that street, I always look and proceed cautiously. Yes, I really do. And today I’m glad I did. I’ve gotta figure out the shortcut. The one time I took it, it didn’t seem any faster, but that’s probably because I stopped at the stop sign along the way instead of doing the little Rhody roll-through.

Score? I’d give him 3 days until he was broadsided.

Stupid thing #3
At the corner of Eaton Street and Huxley Avenue, where I pull into mid-intersection to prepare to make a left on a green light with one car to wait for, I noticed a RIde van on Huxley stopped at the light. Or sorta stopped. The driver prepares to make a right-on-red after the car I’m waiting for passes, but then seems to notice either her location or the two giant signs that say “No right on red”.

As I pull my left, I look over at the driver and she’s talking on a cellphone. And it looked like an involved conversation.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how completely uncool it was for the bus driver to be talking on the phone while driving. Unsafe for her passengers, who all have a physical disability which is why they’re using the services of the RIde van program and who would most likely be harmed in an accident because they would have less ability to brace for an impact; unsafe for those driving on the roadways because the driver is not paying attention; unsafe for bicyclists, who are so very vulnerable, rarely seen by distracted drivers, and in this location in higher than average numbers because of the closeness to campus; and finally, unsafe for pedestrians in a high density pedestrian area immediately around campus.

I don’t know what got into me but I went to the RIPTA (Rhode Island Public Transit Authority) website and clicked on the “Contact Us” tab. I wrote a quick message about what happened earlier in the morning and at what time as I had not noted the license plate number (again, it was raining and I was paying attention to the oil-slicked, wet leaves-covered street).

To my amazement I received a message back within two hours letting me know that cell phone use is prohibited by RIPTA drivers and that the “complaint”, which I considered a simple observation, was forwarded to the RIde program “for entering your complaint against the operator.” It’s the least I could do.

Score? I’d give her early retirement with full pension from the MTA.

This all occurred on my less than 4 mile morning commute. Ya gotta love riding in the city.

Oh, and yesterday I passed red Vespa in the morning on Harris Avenue and it was raining! I didn’t know that modern Vespa riders rode in the rain! I thought they were all made from brown sugar.


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