In 2003, DHL purchased Airborne Express for about $1 Billion dollars. Their intent was to use Airborne's existing domestic fleet to augment their international network and become a threat to UPS and other shipping giants. Since 2003, the once familiar grey Airborne vans were quietly repainted and/or replaced , and the grey fleet became bright DHL yellow. Highly visible trucks, vans, and planes. They want to grow, according to the new combined company's chairman Carl Donaway. Donaway said, "And if we're going to grow, we're going to need more capacity."
This morning I was heading toward work, traveling north in the bike lane on Minnehaha Ave. As I approached 45th Street a DHL van turned north onto Minnehaha about 50 feet ahead of me. Traffic was fairly light, but the DHL van decided not to utilize the nearly empty main lane. Instead, the driver drove north in the bike lane. Apparently he was looking for a house and couldn't quite read the house numbers from the actual car lane. After a few blocks(!) he found the house he was looking for. Because there were a few cars parked in front of the house he wanted, he just stopped in the bike lane. Looking for an address is arduous business, so he'd been driving slowly. I'd been pacing him at about 50 feet behind for those few blocks. But once he stopped, I had to pull up and stop. There was, of course, traffic blocking me from taking the auto lane to go around the DHL van.
I pulled up behind the van and stopped. After waiting a few seconds, I gave the back door two quick open-palmed smacks to get the driver's attention. He looked at me in the rear view mirror, and I gestured for him to pull forward and park somewhere other than a valid lane of traffic. Instead of doing the considerate thing and moving, he shut off the van and got out with his package. I said, "You can't park here, this is a bike lane." His response? "Yeah." And then he walked off toward the house to deliver the package.
So, with the "How's my driving?" bumper sticker staring me straight in the face I pulled out the cell and called 800-827-SAFE. I informed them that the DHL truck number ZE506 had both driven in the bike lane and was currently parked in the bike lane. I'm not sure what's done with those reports, but it made me feel better. Carl Donaway says his company needs more capacity to grow. I would disagree, Carl. If you're going to grow, you're going to need more courtesy.
Date: April 2
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Schwinn
April mileage: 26
Year to date mileage: 935