Yesterday, I exchanged words with a RIPTA driver (see the post for details). I wouldn’t describe the words as “heated,” but they were getting warm. I certainly didn’t demand satisfaction from the driver. Instead, I noted the number of the bus he was driving and vowed to call RIPTA the next day.
I thought for a while about what exactly to say when I called RIPTA, how exactly to frame the problem. I can’t really say that the driver ran me off the road, although he did pass me on the right. Basically, it comes down to the driver being rude and arrogant and generally being a bully. I called the general RIPTA number shortly before 1:00 PM today.
After navigating a little bit of phone tree, I reached a person who answered the phone, “RIPTA information.” This was said in the most bored affect imaginable. Just think of Patty & Selma Bouvier working at the DMV and shouting “Next!” [that's right, I've already made two Simpsons references in the same post.]
I said, “Hello, I need to talk to someone about some rude and inappropriate comments directed at me by a bus driver.”
-ring ring- I didn’t get, “just a minute, I’ll transfer your call,” or “please hold.” The operator just shuttled me off to some other line.
On this line I got a voicemail with the usual drill, “Thank you for calling RIPTA customer service, all available representatives [yadda yadda], leave a message.” I repeated the above message, adding that I would like to discuss it with a supervisor.
While I was waiting for a call-back, I sent a message using the feedback form on the RIPTA website.
About 30 minutes later, I got a call from RIPTA. Not a bad turn-around time, pretty impressive.
The woman I talked to was polite, if a little world-weary. I relayed the story, pretty much as I told it on yesterday’s blog post. She took down the details, with particular attention to which bus might be the culprit. I’m still not certain if it was #0102 or #0120. But it was definitely the #99 route and I know exactly what time it happened. The RIPTA rep mentioned that she will go to the Director of Transportation with my complaint and it could take up to 5 days to get me an update. I told her that I was not interested in the driver “getting in trouble” as such, I just felt it was important for drivers to understand that cyclists have the right to use the road. I let her know that I would talk to her next week about the incident.
Later in the afternoon, the rep sent me an email in response to my message on the feedback form:
“I spoke with you today, [carfreepvd] and I put your complaint in and it will go to the Director of Transportation so proper action can be taken. Thank you.”
I responded with:
I appreciate your quick response. I just want to re-iterate: I’m not interested in the driver getting in trouble as such, I just think it’s important that drivers know that cyclists have a right to use the roads as well. Also, when a driver yells at a cyclist from a large bus, to the cyclist it feels like a threat, regardless of the intent of the driver.
Thank you for keeping me updated.
I’ve used my name and my personal email address in all of my communication with RIPTA, but on this blog I like to keep a patina of anonymity. I did not tell RIPTA that I would be writing about this on a blog. Anyone have any thoughts on the ethics of that? I’m not writing for a news organization where journalistic ethics would require that I identify myself as a journalist. To me, it sounds pretentious to say, “I’ll be writing about this in my blog” [the implied message being, "so be prepared to feel the wrath of my dozen of readers, sucka!"] I’d be willing to entertain arguments for disclosing my blogging to RIPTA. Personally, I think it’s more interesting to see what they say to someone when they don’t know that they are being blogged about.
Let’s see where we are in a month.
hmmm… no pictures to post that are relevant but I hate the idea of a blog post without pictures…. Oh yeah, here’s a still from an awesome animation from commuteorlando about how to avoid the dreaded “left cross.”
I’ll close this post with this, from commute orlando, “The left cross is not your fault, but it is in your interest to prevent it.”