He's enjoying a sweet ride
Indianapolis Star, June 20, 2004
By Robert Scheer
On any given day, you can find Scott Spitz
navigating six lanes of chaos in Downtown Indianapolis to make sure the
legal documents, or portfolios he carries, get where they need to go.
Spitz checks his cell phone for a new call he's received from his
dispatcher at CD&L. -- Robert Scheer / The Star
With a one-shouldered satchel, Spitz can
only carry envelopes and small parcels, but figures he needs only 10
minutes to deliver desk-to-desk within the high-rise district. As the
capital city's only full-time bike messenger, he'll tell you how vulnerable
he feels perched atop 15 pounds of steel and tires barely wider than
your big toe.
"I haven't been hit yet, but I'm sure it's
going to happen," he says. "One motorist tried to put me into a parked
car the other day. I could feel him behind me, really angry."
Spitz, 27, an Indiana resident since the
age of 3, competed as a runner in his childhood, but has since developed
a love of bicycling. He uses it to earn a living as a contractor with
CD&L, a nationwide delivery service that operates an office in Indianapolis.
Scott Hahn, general manager at the local CD&L, says the company dispatches
cars, but he gets requests from Downtown businesses for Spitz because
they'll get their delivery a lot sooner than with an automobile-based
service that must deal with traffic jams and hunting down parking spaces.
Head to an international city like New York
or Chicago, and you can find large packs of bike messengers hanging out
in front of coffee shops waiting for their next runs.
Spitz spends a lot of time by himself on
the south side of Monument Circle watching the pigeons and chatting with
office workers about bicycles and their virtues relative to polluting
"That's pretty cool," Spitz says about spying
a European ultra-compact and highly fuel-efficient Smart car tooling
around the Circle. He says he'd be a lot happier seeing these on Indy's
roadways rather than the gigantic SUVs popular today. "I remember going
to a protest recently and everyone was yelling, 'The (Iraq) war is about
oil.' Then they got in their cars and drove home," Spitz said.
Gwen Frisbie-Fulton, Spitz's girlfriend,
says, "He works hard, and the minute the weather goes bad, he gets a
lot of runs, and he comes home dripping with sweat, like he's been swimming."
She says that because of his influence, she has begun to use her bicycle
for commuting and to do errands.
"Scott wants to show people that it's easy
to live just with a bike. I used to think it was impossible to live without
a car, but he showed me that you can do it and have a real connection
with the city."
Spitz encourages anybody interested in bicycles
as alternative transportation to attend Critical Mass, a bike ride through
town that leaves the last Friday of each month at 5:30 p.m. Downtown
under the Artsgarden.