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Thread: Bike Messenger

  1. #1
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    Bike Messenger

    I thought I might post this, hoping that it's in the correct sub-forum, but I appologize if it's not....I was wondering if anybody here knew of where to get info or if you have any info on getting into the bike messenger business...Recently I was on the ECGA website, and one of the guy's who rode for them from Key west to washington for an event that they were having, is a professional bike messenger in boston..It got me thinking/wondering, since I really like riding and I don't like the current job I'm doing right now, but I'm not really sure what I want to do next, I'm sord of searching for stuff...I don't really know how to get into bike messerging, so I thought I might look into it..

    If any of you have any websites or other info, I'd appreciate it..

    Thanks,

    Benjamin

  2. #2
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    If you're looking to start your own bike messenger business, your city should have guidelines and regulations on what is required of messenger companies. You can go to your city hall and ask for the regulations. In Chicago, it's quite comprehensive.

    If you're just looking to be a bike messenger, I say just go for it! Another forum member I was visiting was having the same problem- didn't know where to start, was going through the paper and checking with head hunters (head hunters???!!!) to try and find a job as a courier. At the end of the day, I said it was all about talking to couriers and finding out which of their companies were hiring, and that's what we did, and that's how he ended up getting a job as a bike messenger.

    My advice- don't go tippy-toeing around the issue. If you're looking to be a bike courier, get out there and talk to other messengers- see where they work, how many jobs they get in a day, if they like their companies, and if their companies are hiring. Don't wait around too long either- I'm sure there's a big turnover, from what I gathered from talking to these couriers- there may be a job available one day, but then so many people are walking in off the street that the spot will be filled almost immediately. So get in there and be aggressive and get that job!

    Koffee

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    Hey thanks for the info here Koffee...I'm actually not wanting to start my own business, but rather to get into it..So your latter points were very good....I do have a question, when you talk about courier services, are you talking about non cycle delivery services or ones that have bike curriers??....I found on the web that there are some companies that only do bike messenger stuff, and they're in variouse cities, so I would hope there would be some also here in the detroit area, but you're right I'll have to talk to some people who either do it, or know of people that do..

    Thanks again,

    Benjamin

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    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    Coming from the courier business (years ago) you may want to know that it is very different from riding for enjoyment or even commuting. It is a very demanding and physically tough job and you are always under the *** to get everything done on time. It is also an all weather job and your employer will expect you there every day rain or shine. With that said there are a lot of positives also, it is a great way to stay in shape and if you find the right company and are a real go getter you can make a decent wage doing it.(one other benefit is that receptionists do take a shine to bike messengers ) the bast way to find out what company you want to work is peddle downtown and hunt for where the couriers hang out at, usually a coffee stand or someplace that has cheap food and talk to them. They are a little like this forum, willing to give you advice and guide you in the right direction. Good luck with your hunt!
    Matthew 6

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    Member tivoli_mike's Avatar
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    Go read the book "Immortal Class" for a good discussion on being a messenger in Chicago, as an example.

  6. #6
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    Hey Caadman-

    Yeah, when I talk about courier companies, I talk about the ones that have bike messengers.

    Forget about going to the websites to find the companies. Go find the bike messengers at their usual haunts, or just stop one when they've finished their delivery and ask. It only takes a minute. In the case with me and this forum member, I just turned around in the grocery store and struck up a conversation with a bike messenger- teasing him about the snacks he was getting, and then the conversation led to me asking where he worked and if they were hiring. He gave up the name of his company, and about 2 days later, he got hired after he follwed through on the information the courier guy gave us!

    I do think being a courier is difficult- I have friends in Chicago who are couriers, and they spend their day racing around the city, no matter what the weather, and they know the more they hustle, the more they'll make. But they both do love their jobs, and they are VERY fit... they almost got me thinking about doing it, but I really do just want to ride for the enjoyment, not for job reasons!

    Good luck to you and keep us updated on your search.

    Get out there!


    Koffee

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    I hate to tell you this but I would avoid getting a bike messenger job. Cops in Manhattan are handing out tickets to bike messngers and commuters like candy. Furthermore, your taking a lot of risks out there an each year we have at least one bike messenger getting killed. Unfortunately, a bike messenger has to take risks like cutting lights, riding in the middle lane, skitching etc.

    Lets not foget the job usually doesn't come with health insurance and what's going to happen when you get injured? Make not doubt it. You will get injured.

    Probably the only job I would take would be to ride a rigshaw around town and pick up passengers. I talked to one guy and he said they can make up to $70.00 dollars a day. They don't work every day since it's physically exhausting after just one day of hauling that 80 pound bike.

  8. #8
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    Thank goodness the guy is in Michigan, then.

    I think it depends on where you're at. I just could not imagine a cop here in Chicago giving a ticket to a courier? That's messed up. Even the cops here on bikes blow through lights and do some of the stuff that couriers do!

    Insurance is always a concern. I've only worked at one job in my entire lifetime that's offered it. Nowadays, we have to be resourceful and get that on our own. I don't trust employer insurance either, as they usually will offer as little as possible and charge you as much as they can. The only insurance I'll ever have from now on is BCBS PPO with the full coverage- compared to employer insurance, BCBS makes most employee insurance look like a joke.

  9. #9
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Koffee Brown
    Thank goodness the guy is in Michigan, then.

    I think it depends on where you're at. I just could not imagine a cop here in Chicago giving a ticket to a courier? That's messed up. Even the cops here on bikes blow through lights and do some of the stuff that couriers do!
    Actually, it's not all that messed up when you think about it. Cops are quite entitled to give tickets to anybody who runs a red light or breaks traffic laws in some other way. Yes, I know the cops do it occasionally, but I believe the law allows them, ambulances and fire fighters to do this in emergency situations.
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  10. #10
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    Oh, I should elaborate.

    Here in Chicago, it's just so overlooked, it's not funny. Couriers blow lights all the time, right in front of cops, and they don't even blink. In fact, everyone blows red lights and the cops don't blink- cars do this too!

    Jaywalking seems to be encouraged- if there's gaggles of pedestrians gathering on the corner, and cars aren't around, cops are waving the pedestrians to cross... it's just so commonplace that no one thinks twice.

    This is all part of our disorderly orderliness in Chicago. With all the looking the other way cops do on a regular basis, for them to pull a courier over and ticket them out of the blue would be astounding. That's what I mean by messed up.

    Much love for ya, Chris. I feel you...

    Koff

  11. #11
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Koffee Brown
    Here in Chicago, it's just so overlooked, it's not funny. Couriers blow lights all the time, right in front of cops, and they don't even blink. In fact, everyone blows red lights and the cops don't blink- cars do this too!

    Jaywalking seems to be encouraged- if there's gaggles of pedestrians gathering on the corner, and cars aren't around, cops are waving the pedestrians to cross... it's just so commonplace that no one thinks twice.

    This is all part of our disorderly orderliness in Chicago. With all the looking the other way cops do on a regular basis, for them to pull a courier over and ticket them out of the blue would be astounding. That's what I mean by messed up.
    It's no different to this part of the world, or, I suspect, anywhere else. However, the fact is, if you break a traffic law, you are running the risk of being fined by a cop who hasn't done his/her quota for the week. And when it happens, there really is nobody else to blame for it.
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  12. #12
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    Oh, it's different all right- read that post about NYC, and San Francisco, for instance. They get fined up the butt for doing stuff that is common practice in Chicago.

    It is true that we're all breaking the laws, but I would think that the law is ineffective at best when everyone is allowed to break it on a regular basis. If someone was fined or ticketed by the cops for doing this in Chicago, I can see them getting the ticket dismissed in court easily.

    Koffee

  13. #13
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Koffee Brown
    It is true that we're all breaking the laws, but I would think that the law is ineffective at best when everyone is allowed to break it on a regular basis.
    If you were to do a search for the words "fascist police state" on the forums, you'd find that I agree with you wholeheartedly. BTW, I'm generally avoid breaking the laws. See my post in the "social outcasts" thread for my reasons for doing so.

    Originally posted by Koffee Brown

    If someone was fined or ticketed by the cops for doing this in Chicago, I can see them getting the ticket dismissed in court easily.
    Somehow I sincerely doubt it. The cop who issued the ticket could always fall back on what the law actually says. Whoever was challenging the ticket would start at a considerable disadvantage.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  14. #14
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    Trust me- there's no way the cops can treat people one way, then turn around and treat someone else entirely differently- I'm sure there would be all kinds of speculation as to why the cops picked on them, what the real motivation was, etc... all kinds of mitigating factors would be explored. So I don't think it would be easily dismissed, but I do think at the end of the day, it would be dismissed. There would be too many unanswered questions.

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    Like any other business, work as one and get to know the business before getting into one.....
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    Hey thanks for the info guy's, I'm sord of in the looking for, type fase..Koffee and Chris, that was great back and for discussion, that really was amazing what this post set off for me, interesting and good!!..

    Yeah I hear you guys on the insurance and injury thing, that does warrant my attention a little bit more, cause the job's that I've had with AAA, which have been the only job I've had since I got out of college, they all have had insurance thru the job, so I'd be a bit concerned with that if I did go into it, but we'll see....I'm seeing a therapist right now that my Sister see's because I need to deal with some other things going on in my life, so that job issue is just one of them, I also plan on doing some test in the fall that will measure my strengths and weakneses, hopefully that'll help in making that job and other decisions that I need to do..

    I'll keep you guy's updated though..

    Thanks again,

    Benjamin

  17. #17
    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    Hey Benjamin,

    There are courier companies out there that offer insurance and you will be covered by Industrial Insurance if you are hurt on the job. The injury rate among couriers is really not that high it is no more dangerous than road riding in general. As Koffee and I suggested go hang out in the business district (best times are late morning to early afternoon) and see if you can find out where they hang out at they usually are more than willing to recruit you its hard to keep good couriers.

    David
    Matthew 6

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  19. #19
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    Hey Benjamin,

    I was a messenger for a summer here in Boston with two different companies, and I wholeheartedly support everyone's advice, especially speaking with other couriers.

    I worked for one company for 2 weeks and earned a whopping $100.00, because they had a sliding scale on how much you got paid for deliveries; i.e. distance traveled, weight of package, etc. This was also during the summer, so I was competing with many other couriers for deliveries. While this scale would be great for a seasoned pro, I would definitely not suggest it for a beginner.

    The second company was much more reasonable and paid an hourly rate. Definitely check out the company and their pay scale. Just my 2 cents.

    Take care and good luck!

  20. #20
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Another thing. I remember a quote from Allister once, saying he'd once ridden through a blizzard to get to an interview for a cycle-courier job when he was in Canada. Apparently they then offered him the job on the spot.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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