Welcome to Santa Cruz County’s Bicycle Courier Blog

I thought it would be great to have a place where Bike Couriers and Bike Riders could meet and talk, share stories, trade advice, and build an online community. I look forward to reading and writing our Courier stories, news, and comments.

Rick Graves

Monday, August 16, 2010

Courtesy in the Courier's World.

Recently we were approached by a New York columnist who wanted to know the rudest questions we were asked about our job for a book he is writing featuring Miss Manners and other notables. It brought up the larger subject of common courtesy and how it relates to our job as we go about in traffic and through people's work environments.
It occurred to me that some bicycle couriers might be seen as discourteous and maybe that could have something to do with the supposed decline of the industry as a whole.
In truth you can't be a successful courier if you are rude or unaware of how your actions effect others around you. One of the keys to a smooth career or day as a courier is an acute awareness of your position and relationship to others on the physical plane. In traffic it's a matter of survival. You can't barge through a car even if they are trying take you out, and a pedestrian is better passed from behind, so as not to have them skitter in front of you and get hit. The main principle is not to impede the flow of traffic, which bike messengers should be great at because of their superior maneuverability.
Towards that end, Clutch Couriers practice letting people out of the door before entering (just like in NYC subway cars) and holding the door for those entering behind us. Other less obvious (and misunderstood) favors include moving to the front of the line at the red light so that the cyclist can be clearly seen, and get out of the intersection quicker when the light turns green.
There are a million ways that modern life has made us believe that "I am the center of the universe" and this disease is spreading like an epidemic. Being a good bicycle messenger is the one of the best ways that I know to combat this in myself.
Remember that common courtesy is really looking out for number one by realizing the symbiotic nature of society.

Flowing like water from the mountains to the sea...-RG

1 comment:

Mari Lynch said...

In the midst of AutoWeek/Concours/Rolex traffic here in Monterey County this past week, lane sharing was essential to move quickly through the streets and out of the car fumes.

When I move to the front at a red light, I know it may be misunderstood by some, even though it's usually the safest thing to do. And my understanding is that although lane splitting/lane sharing is legal in California for bicycles and motorcycles, in the event of an injury, police and jurors may be biased against this practice.

As usual, common sense in each individual situation--and being truly courteous and considerate of others you share the road with--wisely takes precedence over any law.

Thanks for your good work, northern neighbors!