Scoot Commute

What is up with the new traffic pattern? Could someone put up a sign besides “Do not Enter”?

Posted in Buddy St. Tropez (Franz Biberkopf), Daily Commute by sbahn on 2010/10/21

Ok, so I haven’t posted in a little while but it’s not because the commute has been uneventful; quite the opposite!

Let’s see now…ambulance (or ambulette, you know those ambulance-like vans that shuttle people from a nursing home to doctor appointments) jumps the light to make a left turn in front of me, who was going straight. Minivan on Elmwood Ave has an orange splotch hanging out of the door. I think to myself, “Hmm, that looks like a parking ticket.” As I pass, I look over and indeed, there is a parking ticket hanging out of the door. Classic Southside.

But tonight’s a dooooozy. First off, I saw four scooters; one Chinascoot on campus ridden by some kid with no helmet (or any other type of gear); two Buddies (a red Buddy ridden by a girl wearing a skirt in October in New England and a cream Buddy with a Jolly Roger patterned seat cover ridden by a guy with a bookbag that had a red strap); and another Chinascoot parked up against the wall at whatever that brick building that isn’t Charlesgate is near the Whole Foods on North Main.

Second off, I had to go to THREE grocery stores to get provisions for tonight’s dinner and fire. Three! And I hate going to grocery stores. As I was overheated with too many layers of clothing and over loaded with too much kindling and food stuffs, I headed off the East Side and back to the ‘hood. It was rush hour in Providence (yeah, yeah, I know, it’s a joke, but there still is a lot of slow/stupid traffic) as I headed down Canal Street toward RISD and onto Memorial Blvd. As I rode along where Main Street combines with Washington Street, I had a girly in a big SUV pull a right turn in the go-straight lane. Good thing I figured she’d try that as I had looked over and saw her yakking away on the phone. After banging my fist on her truck, she kept back from me at the next two sets of lights. I’m sure that conversation was important.

I continued along Dyer Street and onto Eddy Street as they merge together. At the light at the Hess, I hung a right onto Point Street. This was my mistake. While I was vaguely aware that Point Street is now only a one-way street at the bridge over I-95, it didn’t really register with me on my auto-pilot route home. As I came to a stop as the light turned red at the Coro Building, I started to panic as my only option was to make a right turn…a right turn that would lead me onto I-95 North in rush hour (again, Providence’s version of rush hour) traffic.  And I’m on a 150cc scooter with a huge bag of kindling on my floorboard that is forcing me to put my feet on the passenger pegs.


I look around and think about pulling a U-ey at the light (up and to the left), but there’s now a car behind me and two cars coming in the opposite direction. I figured what’s the worst that could happen? I wind up on the highway for one exit; I’ve done that plenty of times on I-195 to get across the Seekonk River to ride out east.

Light turns green and I make the right. To my absolute confusion, there is now a street that goes straight, but straight to where? I continue straight, avoiding the left merge onto I-95, and the little white car is still behind me. I think they’re as confused as I am.

Up a bit there’s a new bridge, or maybe a bridge that was always there that I didn’t notice, but whatever, there is a way to make a left over some bridge I don’t remember. I turn and the white car follows me. We get a red light at the service road, and as it changes to green, I proceed straight. I’m now on the Southside at least, but what the hell street am I on?

I continue straight and things look vaguely familiar. Maybe this is Pine? But none of these houses look like the houses on Pine. Hmmm. The road surface is all torn up and there are 4-way stops at every corner.

I keep riding straight and see new paint stripings on the street. Cars are parked to the right and traffic is supposed to ride on the left. I pass the daycare place. “Hmm,” I think to myself, “How am I going past that place…it would require me to be going the wrong way on a one-way street.”

Yikes! Am I going the wrong way; but wait, all the parked cars are facing the same direction as I’m travelling. I am going the right way, but the street is backwards! What the hell is happening on Friendship Street?! When did this happen?

I pass by Amos House. I am definitely on Friendship Street. I pass by the little park on the left. A truck pulls up on Dudley Street where a lot of the traffic from the hospitals take a shortcut by making a right turn onto Friendship. I see the truck and start weaving back and forth. “Please see me,” I beg. But why would he? He’s looking for one-way traffic coming the opposite way; the old traffic pattern. The truck starts to make the turn into my path, sees me, and stops dead. He’s confused. I’m confused. Everyone is freaking confused.

Seriously, a couple of signs letting drivers know about the MAJOR changes to the traffic pattern would have helped. The truck makes a left behind me. I pull up to the new light at the corner of Friendship and Broad Streets. It’s red. I sit there. An unmarked police car with a light flickering red is sitting near the intersection. The truck pulls up behind me but not very close.

The light is red. It’s staying red. I motion to the truck to scootch up so he can trip the light as I can see the cut-out in the pavement there the trippy thing is. No way my little plastic scooter is going to trip this light. In a typical move for this neighborhood, the guy pulls up next to me on my left. Even though I had my left turn signal on, I guess my “scootch up” hand gesture didn’t translate very well.

Now we’re in quite a conundrum. No one is on the metal trippy thing. I turn around toward the white car behind me and motion to him to scootch up. No reaction. By this point a very tall homeless dude comes bounding down the sidewalk, bellowing at me with that crazy homeless person timbre, “Hey, hey you. I’m talking to you.” You know, the typical nonsense. I always have to remind myself that the person is most likely ill so I should be kind, but I don’t like giant guys screaming at me in the dark when I’m wearing a helmet with a floorboard covered in kindling at a red light. It kinda freaks me out.

Putting on the New Yorker, I ignore him. Well, he didn’t like that. He steps off the curb and gets pretty close to me, yelling “You’re pretty.” Really? I’m sweating like a banshee and I’m wearing a bubble on my head and it’s dark and you’re freaking me out.

He’s really mad now that I won’t acknowledge him, so I growl “Get away from me!” He heads across the street in front of me and the stupid truck. The light is still red. It’s been a couple of minutes.

I decide that I don’t care that there’s a cop sitting there, I’m going to make my left turn on the red when there’s a break in traffic. I figure if I get pulled over, I’ll inform the good officer that 1) the homeless dude was freaking me out; and, 2) that the light was obviously not being tripped and I could still be there at this moment waiting to make a left onto Broad Street.

No cop followed. Who knows what the truck and car wound up doing. Of course I get the next red light on Broad Street and the homeless guy is still yelling at me. Great. Just a few more blocks, just a few more blocks.

I finally made it to my street and tucked Franz in for the night. Good grief. All this for some pasta and kindling. Did I mention I hate shopping?

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