Tour de Rhode Island

By PHOENIX STAFF  |  May 28, 2014


Driving etiquette tips from a bike messenger _by Philip Eil

Donny Green — veteran messenger and dispatcher at Providence’s lone bike-messaging service, DASH Delivery — wants you to know something: the life of a bike messenger is not like it appears in the 2012 Joseph Gordon-Levitt flick, Premium Rush. “The movie is obviously Hollywood,” he says. “For us, it’s not about being daredevils, it’s about being able to organize and get everything done on time. Riding fast isn’t as important as riding smart.”

Speaking of “riding smart” Green wants you — that is, folks riding in those hulking, high-speed blocks of rolling metal we call “cars” — to smarten up, too. Providence, it seems, has a disproportionate number of bike-oblivious (or worse, actively bike-averse) drivers. If more of them abided by Green’s Rules of the Road — well, bike/car relations in the Ocean State would be considerably less tense.

Take it away, Donny.

1) Use your turn signal. You know where you’re going but no one else does. They put that little stick next to the steering wheel for a reason. Use it.

2) Keep your head up and put your phone down. I’ve learned how to deal with a population of drivers who focus more on their phones then the act of driving. I shouldn’t have to, though. That text message can wait until you get out of the car. Everyone will be much safer for it.

3)Your main and most important job while driving is to drive. That may sound silly but most people have forgotten the huge responsibility they take on every time they get behind the wheel. Cars weigh thousands of pounds, travel at extremely high speeds, and can cause catastrophic damage in a matter of seconds. Even a Honda Fit weighs more than 2000 pounds; my bike and I don’t even break 200. Do your job.

4) Don’t tell me to get on the sidewalk. It still amazes me that there are people here who don’t know that bikes have a legal right to be in the road. You may think I’m slowing you down by being next to you, but I’m not. I know the traffic patterns in this town better than almost anybody, and you’re not making it through that next light with or without me here. But that’s not even the point. The road is for both of us, so share it.

5) Step off the gas. Continuing with the previous item’s theme: when you do go around me, don’t floor it. I know you want to prove how big, strong, fast, and superior your car is, but you just end up looking like a jerk when I pass you by at the next light.

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