Uber as Bicycling Motorcade? Absolutely.
I often find myself wanting to ride on a roadway corridor that doesn’t want me there. At best, I could make it across alive with some close calls and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. At worst, I wouldn’t be around to write this blog post.
Of course, a safer, alternate route doesn’t always exist. So, you have to make one yourself.
Take, for example, the Green Bridge in New Orleans. This key artery connects two parts of great riding in the city: St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans East. The Green Bridge is over a mile long, has no shoulder at its crest, and stands over 13 stories tall. Its speed limit is 55 mph, but traffic travels at an unenforced 70.
Fortunately, there’s no need to either risk your life or ruin your intended route. When I find myself here, I call an Uber of Lyft not to hop in the car, but to gain a private traffic escort.
The conversation typically goes like this when the driver pulls up:
Me: Hi, I’m Charlie. I’m not trying to get in your car all sweaty with my bike. Can you just put your hazard lights on and follow me over the bridge so that no one hits me? It should take about 4 minutes and I’ll tip you at the bottom. Cool?
David the Uber driver: Alllllllright.
This will likely be the first time your driver has gotten this request, so make the request confidently enough to not give the driver second thoughts. Of course, it’s completely within the driver’s discretion at this point to accept/reject this ride, but I’ve never seen anyone decline it.
I pull away on my bike and head onto the feeder road. David tails me in his Xterra about 40 feet behind. The adrenalin of the bridge ahead and passing traffic keep me moving at 15 mph up the grade. I feel like Egan Bernal. My legs start to burn as I near the top, which comes just in time to start coasting downhill. Within a few seconds, I’m zooming down the backslope somewhere around 35 mph. Traffic is still passing twice as fast as me, and I’m glad I have cover.
At the bottom, I pull over and David follows. He rolls down his window and I thank him for literally saving my life. He seems genuinely happy to have done some good. He also seems happy that I didn’t get sweat and bike grease all over his interior. Mutual 5-star reviews are exchanged. Everybody wins.
So, use this life hack when you need it. As someone who wants to occasionally ride high-speed corridors and live to tell about it, it hasn’t failed me yet.
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