The Indignity of Bicycle Parking: Business Mail Entry Unit

It’s springtime and that means I’m seeing more and more bikes out there. This should make me happy, but I’m occasionally curmudgeonly, so it often makes me think, “where were you losers a month ago?” One thing I hate about biking this time of year is that all of the accumulated sand used to treat the roads over the winter is still on the road – and it is all in the curbs where I am sure the motorists would prefer I ride.

Bike Lane? More like "Grit Lane"

I hate riding on sand. First, it’s slippery. If I were to quickly apply my brakes, I could easily fall while riding on a sandy stretch of road. Second, it is horrible for my bike’s drivetrain. I’ve ridden my bike through 5 winters now, and the sand that gets onto my chain, crank, and cassette has effectively ground down the teeth. I have a triple crankset (that’s three different gear choices near the pedals, for all of you non-Freds). I’m usually in the middle of the three gears, and the teeth in this gear are noticeably sharper than the other two gears. Third, I just prefer the sound of smooth pavement beneath my wheels. I seem to remember seeing street sweepers in Providence once last year. I hope they’ll come through at some point and get rid of that sand so I can get back to the side of the road. Luckily, Providence drivers continue to impress me with the amount of space most of them give me when they pass me. Except for that lady who passed me the other day on Benefit street. She passed about a foot away from me which made it easy to read her bumpersticker: “Take a hand, not a life.” Which I haven’t seen before but it featured a picture of a baby reaching out in an Adam-to-God Sistine Chapel sort of way so I’m guessing it was a pro-life, anti-abortion message. I was able to catch up to her at the light where it seemed she had one hand on her cell phone and the other gesticulating in the air (not at me – to the person on the phone). Evidently she had no way to “take a hand” so I guess she was forced to pass a foot away from me in an attempt to “take a life.” I’ve resolved to only yell at close-passing cars in the most egregious of cases, and this one did not quite rise to that level, so I decided to let her continue her important conversation and I just headed home.

I work at a non-profit organization that occasionally does a bulk mailing to our membership. Basically, we’re asking our previous donors for more money. Sorry, but if we just waited for money to come rolling in, we wouldn’t be around for long. If you’ve ever received a bulk mailing from a non-profit org, have you ever wondered how that all works? No? Well I’ll tell you anyhow. Basically, we send the name and address information to a mailing company  and they put everything together and sort everything by zip code +4. Because everything is sorted before it arrives at the post office, we are charged a lower rate. The mailing company tells us how much the mailing will cost and we have to rush over to the post office with a check to cover it. When it is nice outside, I am the first to volunteer to do this. It’s a short jaunt to the central post office, and it makes for a nice mid-day break to get some fresh air.

Bulk mailings are handled at the Business Mail Entry Unit near the giant central Providence Post Office – on Corliss St. at the confluence of I-95 and Rt-146. It can be a hairy ride to get there. I have to navigate a few merges and go past the on-ramp for I-95. After navigating this gauntlet, I arrive at the recently built Business Mail Entry Unit, and its completely empty parking lot:

Plenty of grit here as well.

There are two loading docks for the big bulk mailers, a loading ramp for smaller bulk mailers, a wheelchair ramp, 8 parking spaces for customers, and of course, no bike parking. To be honest, I don’t really expect bike parking here. In fact I’d be surprised if anyone else ever arrived at the Business Mail Entry Unit by bike. Besides, my bike is securely locked to that no parking sign.

It could be worse. It could be the First Church of Christ, Scientist on Meeting Street in Providence. Where as you can see, there is ample parking for your horse:

But none for your bike.

A final aside for this post: Last Thursday, the entire cycling blogging world exploded in a frenzy when Google released the bicycle maps routing thingy for its mapping website. I used it that same day to plan a route to a store I had only been to once before. Google, in it’s infinite wisdom, suggested a different route than I had taken previously, and who am I to second-guess the great and powerful G? I followed G’s directions, and it was definitely a superior route. I’ll have to keep exploring the city with g-maps suggested routes in order to give a full opinion. One disappointment however is that my favorite little bike route with the funny gigantic name is not even included in the mapping software! This oversight must be corrected. Time to click that “report a problem” button.

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