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  1. #1
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    When a courier gets hit.

    I was wondering if anyone can cite or remembers any examples of what happens when a courier has an accident on the job.
    I got to thinking about this when I got stopped for running a red light while working. it went as follows..

    I make a left turn up the wrong way on a one way street(the lane I was in was a parking lane, so I was relatively shielded from traffic), I noticed I had to go further up the street to get to the address I had to be at, so I turned around and continued the right way up the street, I get to the same intersection not 10 feet away and cross it, after looking both ways and not seeing a single car, even though it was a red-light.

    I find the address I need to be at, and then I hear a siren behind me. Now I know I broke the law. I can accept that. What I have a problem with is m interaction with the cop. She was pissed the hell off(I did run the light fairly blatantly in front of her, she was in a red car that I assumed was fire department... turns out it was a cop). She screams "are you trying to get killed" " you just nearly got killed twice" "I dont want to have to wipe your brains off the road" and a couple other zingers I can't quite remember. Basically it was clear that she thought I was a maniac, and that she thought what I was doing was very dangerous. I didn't argue with her and just took the ticket(she was nice about only getting me for the red light and not for going up the wrong way).
    What I did really wasn't particularly dangerous though. I was in good control of my bike the whole time, aware of traffic around me, I didn't get in the way of any cars and I most definitely did not nearly get killed.

    On the other hand on a daily basis I narrowly avoid at least two or three incidents that could leave me very hurt. In a months of riding only one of those was caused by my actions(mistimed a light and got stuck between two directions of traffic, it was very scary) most of the time, and I do mean overwhelmingly most of the time these near death encounters are caused by Jaywalkers, cars making illegal u-turns, or cars making perfectly legal if not careless u-turns on quiet residential streets. And theres the cars that pass me going way too fast and waaaaay to close.
    Now if I ran a red and got hit by a car doing so I wouldn't expect the law to be on my side. But if someone pulled a Uturn in front of me and hit me I would expect the law to back me up. Somehow though I feel that the mentality that I am a crazy bike messenger would be enough for the cops to ignore my side of the story. Any stories about situations like this and how they play out?
    Please lets not turn this into a discussion about how I should follow traffic laws, it's not really an option and not really insightful. I know laws exist for a reason and I'm usually fairly law abiding.

  2. #2
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robertv View Post
    I do mean overwhelmingly most of the time these near death encounters are caused by Jaywalkers, cars making illegal u-turns, or cars making perfectly legal if not careless u-turns on quiet residential streets. And theres the cars that pass me going way too fast and waaaaay to close.
    What do you think the ninja peds think of you? You're all in the same boat. If you want to ride like this, live with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by robertv View Post
    Please lets not turn this into a discussion about how I should follow traffic laws, it's not really an option and not really insightful. I know laws exist for a reason and I'm usually fairly law abiding.
    Forget about it. By posting anything of this sort, you're inviting those commentaries. Tough noogies.

    -Kurt

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    I don't mind the fact that Ninja peds are Jaywalking. I do it all the time too. It's just that if you're gonna jaywalk please look where you're going. Every day I nearly hit someone who's jaywalking. Therese also many jaywalkers everyday who are looking, who see me coming and we have no trouble with each other, I'll usually smile at them and they smile back. NSW law allows for bicycles to move ahead in stopped traffic so even if a jaywalker was crossing through stopped traffic I would have right of way.

    I know someone is going to give me a speech about the law, and I do respect that but its not the issue. The issue is the perception the cops have of me as being essentially suicidal and how that impacts me in situations where I am not at fault. I've accepted the ticket I got and will pay it. I just don't want to be found at fault when a cab driver decides he doesn't have to yield to me or just rams me from behind for kicks.
    Last edited by robertv; 04-10-10 at 10:20 AM.

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    Another thing I've noticed is that the majority of these ninja peds are the same businessmen who pay me to risk my behind and hustle their paperwork around town. I don't think theres very many companies in the city that don't use messengers at least once in a while. Our presence in the city is pretty widely known, why don't they just look before crossing the street? As I said I looked both ways before crossing the street when I ran that red. yet cops think I have a deathwish, pedestrians, many of which jaywalk all the time are just innocently going about their way. You can see how thats a bit unfair towards me right?

    And does no one else think the cops comments are ridiculous and maybe a little unprofessional? Wiping my brains off the road? I'm pretty sure cops don't wipe brains off the road. The Ambos might have to do that or public works, but I highly doubt this cop has ever had to wipe anyones anything off the road. She still felt the comment was necessary though.

  5. #5
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Does your company have insurance? Not sure how the at-fault stuff works down there... but here even blatently at fault drivers get their cars repaired and medical paid, though they may get dropped shortly after.

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    Just a small note- in most states that I've been in, a cop can't follow someone and add up a stack of tickets- I don't think she was so much doing you a favor by not ticketing you for multiple infractions, as just whacking you with the single worst of them.

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    Eh, she did me a favor, both infractions happened within about 5 seconds of each other. I didn't really Salmon up the street though, I don't think I went more than 12 ft past the corner before I pulled up to the curb. It's the sort of thing I have to do many times in a day. I then immediately turned around as I was at the wrong address and ran the red light. She had been sitting at the light the whole time. I only ran the light because I thought her red car with lights on the top was a fire department car. I don't do illegal stuff, even if its fairly minor, in front of cops. I don't see any need to give them cause to fine me.

  8. #8
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robertv View Post
    Now I know I broke the law. I can accept that. What I have a problem with is m interaction with the cop. She was pissed the hell off(I did run the light fairly blatantly in front of her, she was in a red car that I assumed was fire department... turns out it was a cop). She screams "are you trying to get killed" " you just nearly got killed twice" "I dont want to have to wipe your brains off the road" and a couple other zingers I can't quite remember. Basically it was clear that she thought I was a maniac, and that she thought what I was doing was very dangerous. I didn't argue with her and just took the ticket
    Wise. "Yes m'aam, thanks, I'll be more careful" is about all you should say.

  9. #9
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    Yeah, that's messenger work.

    Rightfully, if you are run down and it's the driver's 'fault' the responding police should just play it straight and give the ticket to the driver, regardless of your job or if you were running lights all year long. Realistically, it doesn't always work that way. Police are likely to be sympathetic to the driver in the situation, even if you are just a regular civilian bicyclist. If they know you are a messenger they are likely to be even more sympathetic to the driver, and many cops will find it all but impossible to ticket the driver instead of you.

    One veteran messenger I know was comatized by an SUV when its driver ran a light. The driver ran from the scene, abandoning his vehicle. The police officer who wrote up the report exonerated the driver for the collision, by claiming that the messenger was headed the wrong way on the one-way street. This was obviously a lie, or perhaps a blatant mistake, given the location of the impact on the vehicle, and the destination/start point of the messenger. The driver got a ticket for fleeing the scene, but that's it. If it had been a pedestrian he ran down, he'd probably be in jail right now.

    How long have you been a messenger? Where do you work?

    Think about these things all the time while you're working. You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't. If someone runs you over and knocks you out, nobody will be there to tell your side of the story. The cops probably won't care, the paramedics might not either. They might even think to themselves (as will some of the knee-jerkers on forums like this one) this guy got what he deserved, even if you've been riding safe for 20 years.

    In fact, I would say the same thing to those out there who like to dress like messengers, use messenger bags and other equipment associated with messengers, and don't mind being mistaken for messengers. It's serious business, what you're doing. You're putting yourself behind the 8-ball for some fashion points.

    When I was involved in a violent collision years ago, I picked my bloody body and broken bike off the street and then waved down a cop who happened to be driving by. Lucky for me, this guy was a true professional. Totally by the book, and no nonsense about me being a messenger. He even laughed out loud at the driver's claim that I was riding too fast and other silly excuses. This cop was Gary Whitman, the Chief of Police for the city of Denver. It usually doesn't work out that way.

    It's tricky to say the least, to have to work outside the law in order to complete our required tasks, and then to rely on the law when the s. hits the f.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robertv View Post
    I was wondering if anyone can cite or remembers any examples of what happens when a courier has an accident on the job.
    I got to thinking about this when I got stopped for running a red light while working. it went as follows..

    I make a left turn up the wrong way on a one way street(the lane I was in was a parking lane, so I was relatively shielded from traffic), I noticed I had to go further up the street to get to the address I had to be at, so I turned around and continued the right way up the street, I get to the same intersection not 10 feet away and cross it, after looking both ways and not seeing a single car, even though it was a red-light.

    I find the address I need to be at, and then I hear a siren behind me. Now I know I broke the law. I can accept that. What I have a problem with is m interaction with the cop. She was pissed the hell off(I did run the light fairly blatantly in front of her, she was in a red car that I assumed was fire department... turns out it was a cop). She screams "are you trying to get killed" " you just nearly got killed twice" "I dont want to have to wipe your brains off the road" and a couple other zingers I can't quite remember. Basically it was clear that she thought I was a maniac, and that she thought what I was doing was very dangerous. I didn't argue with her and just took the ticket(she was nice about only getting me for the red light and not for going up the wrong way).
    What I did really wasn't particularly dangerous though. I was in good control of my bike the whole time, aware of traffic around me, I didn't get in the way of any cars and I most definitely did not nearly get killed.

    On the other hand on a daily basis I narrowly avoid at least two or three incidents that could leave me very hurt. In a months of riding only one of those was caused by my actions(mistimed a light and got stuck between two directions of traffic, it was very scary) most of the time, and I do mean overwhelmingly most of the time these near death encounters are caused by Jaywalkers, cars making illegal u-turns, or cars making perfectly legal if not careless u-turns on quiet residential streets. And theres the cars that pass me going way too fast and waaaaay to close.
    Now if I ran a red and got hit by a car doing so I wouldn't expect the law to be on my side. But if someone pulled a Uturn in front of me and hit me I would expect the law to back me up. Somehow though I feel that the mentality that I am a crazy bike messenger would be enough for the cops to ignore my side of the story. Any stories about situations like this and how they play out?
    Please lets not turn this into a discussion about how I should follow traffic laws, it's not really an option and not really insightful. I know laws exist for a reason and I'm usually fairly law abiding.
    I had a slightly similar experience several years ago as I was coming home from the "First Friday" free concert in downtown St. Pete. I was traveling north on 4th St. N. in right tire track. I had an off-duty traffic homicide cop pull me over. And his rant started out pretty much the same as cop who pulled you over. Only with "You and your bike clubs need to learn. . ." and "I'm a traffic homicide cop and I'm tired of cleaning you all up off the road." When I tried to remind him that we are allowed to take the lane he threatened to seize my bike right there on the spot. He also (in my opinion unprofessionally) mentioned another area cyclist who I am familiar with by name and told me about her history of being ticketed while riding her bike.

    He also tried to tell me that I was riding without either lights or reflectors. I use two taillights one is the Serfas 9-LED light in blink mode. And a Topeak UFO in steady mode. The Serfas taillight also has a reflector built into the lens, but no indicator for battery strength. So even if the batteries die while I am riding I still have a reflector. And presumably it is unlikely that the batteries in the Serfas and the Topeak are going to die on me at the same time so if one set dies I should still have another taillight providing light as well as the aforementioned reflector that is part of the lens of the Serfas light.

    For headlights I have a twin lamp 12-watt quartz halogen Marwi light, two Serfas Guppy's set to blink, and a Serfas 3-LED head light in steady mode. And again the odds of all of the batteries dying on me at the same time isn't very likely.

    We left with him instructing me to ride closer to the curb, but no ticket just I guess a warning. A few minutes later after I had turned west onto 22nd Ave. N. to take a more direct route home, I passed a ninja cyclist that he really should have been on the look out for.

    For those of you with more legal experience, being as he was off-duty at the time if he wanted to seize my bike wouldn't he have had to call someone who was on-duty to the scene to actually seize my bike?
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  11. #11
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    For those of you with more legal experience, being as he was off-duty at the time if he wanted to seize my bike wouldn't he have had to call someone who was on-duty to the scene to actually seize my bike?
    Probably didn't matter to him - he wanted your bike for himself.

    -Kurt

  12. #12
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    I don't wanna say where I'm working, although it would be pretty obvious from some of my previous posts. I'm still new and the people I work with would probably laugh their asses off at me for this post.
    I haven't been working as a courier long, just a coupla weeks now, but I'll probably be doing it untill november unless I end up working as a pedicab driver again(There was no money in it, but some guys I trained up are now making more money than I do as a messenger) .
    If in November I still like it I'll probably try to get some courier work when I get back to europe.

    I do keep my mind on the fact that as a messenger cars, especially those that spend lots of time on the road in the city, like taxis, will treat me different. And I've noticed it too. Hell just the other day I saw a cab pulling into the road with a flat tire so I stopped to point it out... our conversation "Hey you got a flat man, front passenger side" "no **** you you #%$%&%^, get outta the road". Then he pulled out, got halfway up the block, got out cursed a bunch and had to find a new parking spot, which is just about impossible on that street.

    It's still good to hear some feedback on this. It sounds like the odds of me being totally screwed even if it's not my fault are about the same as with other cyclists, which I can deal with.

  13. #13
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    Oh and thanks for taking my post seriously guys, I know that when someone gets on A&S and then openly admits to breaking a bunch of laws they usually don't get very far.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
    Probably didn't matter to him - he wanted your bike for himself.

    -Kurt
    You might be right. As I think I said in at least one other thread on this topic. There was something about his demeanor that didn't sit well with me, and I stayed astride my bike the whole time that we were talking.

    It was after I reminded him that we did have the right to take the lane that he threatened to "seize my bike on the spot."

    If he did wouldn't he have to give me a ticket, or arrest me and/or a receipt? Otherwise wouldn't it be theft for him to "seize" my bike?

    Also as I think I had mentioned in one or more other posts on this topic, where he "instructed" me to ride was closer to the gutter pan/curb then I normally ride.

    The irony is that both before and after that incident I had/have been passed by numerous other St. Pete LEO's riding in the same fashion as I was that night and none of them have ever stopped me and "corrected" my riding style "instructing" me to ride closer to the gutter pan/curb.

    As a matter of fact Friday night I was talking with two female officers, after I had called the non-emergency number to report a bar across the street from me that had their music way too loud. One of them I had met previously when I had an egg thrown at me. And I reminded her of where I road, and she had no problem with it.
    Last edited by Digital_Cowboy; 04-11-10 at 05:12 PM.
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  15. #15
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    I think couriers get a bad rap, by the same people who actively use them. Personally, I don't have the guts to be a courier so, I cheer all those that do.

  16. #16
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robertv View Post
    It's still good to hear some feedback on this. It sounds like the odds of me being totally screwed even if it's not my fault are about the same as with other cyclists, which I can deal with.
    That really depends on if your state has no-fault insurance requirements that cover the medical damages and lost wages.

    In a state without no-fault, it may be much harder to get your medical covered. My health insurance from work would cover me in that case. While you are unable to work, you do not get paid. Someone who can still do office work for their job still gets paid, as well as those of us who are salaried.

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    Hang on. First you say you looked and were aware of your surroundings. Then you say you didn't notice the cop car you did illegal manouvers in front of.

    I actually think this cop was right on in what she said. And yes, if anything does happen (be it your fault or someone elses) she is the one who has to witness and help clean up your body. Give her some slack, she's doing her job and doing it well by the sounds of it.
    I want to live.

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    I saw her, it was just that I was pretty damn sure it was a fire department car. Doing her job well? I mean, sure she wrote out a ticket for a crime I did commit, but having to scream a bunch of ridiculous comments about my safety? Why is that necessary? I highly doubt my brains are gonna end up on any pavement, and if they do I doubt even more it will have been my fault.

  19. #19
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    So you violate vehicular traffic laws but want assurance that if other people break them you're cover? What about the people who'll get in accidents due to your foolish behaviour? How are they covered?
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  20. #20
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber View Post
    What about the people who'll get in accidents due to your foolish behaviour? How are they covered?
    They will be covered by robertv's bicycle.

    -Kurt

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    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
    They will be covered by robertv's bicycle.

    -Kurt
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber View Post
    So you violate vehicular traffic laws but want assurance that if other people break them you're cover? What about the people who'll get in accidents due to your foolish behaviour? How are they covered?
    They will be covered by the insurance policy that robertv's courier company is almost certainly required to carry.

  23. #23
    Senior Member longbeachgary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robertv View Post
    I'm usually fairly law abiding.
    That's funny.

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    I get it, it's a bit hypocritical. But, I don't do anything that I consider dangerous to me or others, mostly out of self preservation. I do however have to break a couple of laws every day to get through the working day.
    Some how I don't running red lights after looking both ways are gonna get me or anyone else hurt. Some how I do think the cab drivers that intentionally buzz me and sometimes intentionally run me off the road might. I wanna know if anyone is still gonna believe my side of the story. It's great that even on a website full of cyclists that's not the case. Very reassuring. Do you really think that because I run red lights I should take the blame when someone else runs me over?
    And yes I am insured, but I'm pretty sure it's mostly public liability. Up to a fairly ridiculous amount too(how the hell am I gonna cause 20 million in damages?)

    And what people getting into accidents cause of my foolish behaviour? And really what's so foolish about my behaviour? The red's I run are no more dangerous than jaywalking across an empty street. I know A&S is all about following the rules but I'm still sure you can all admit that running a red light on a bike doesn't immediately cause mayhem and anarchy, especially if I'm actually looking where I'm going.

  25. #25
    山馬鹿 Spire's Avatar
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    Back in 2002 I worked as a courier in Montreal. One day near the end of the summer an idiot on a bike blows a stop at a blind intersection as I am desending du Parc. I blow into him at about 40kph and fly off the bike. I had an ambulance on the scene and was taken to hospital immediately (I never got the name of the other guy)

    I was off the bike for 2 months as per doctors orders. Even though I had one of those "independent contractor" contracts. I became (as far as I know) the first messenger to get coverage under workman's comp (CSST here in Quebec). I wound up speaking with (I think) and arbitrator who made the decision.
    http://www.cyclistsroadmap.com/eng/ - Cyclists' road map. Checkout which roads are good for cycling and rate roads in your area.

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