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  1. #1
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    The Fax Machine killed the Bike Messenger

    So many people want to be bike messengers. Here's why everyone who wants to, can't:

    I had a conversation with judge a few years back. Before he became a judge he practiced law in DC. I asked him if he ever used bike messengers. He was like, "Yes. We used them all the time...until fax machines came about."

    The Fax Machine killed the bike messenger industry.

    Email made sure it was dead.

    PDFs and Digital Photography are the nails in the coffin.


    Internet cuts need for bike messengers (MSNBC.com)
    "Around the country, high-speed Internet, which allows larger documents to be e-mailed quickly, is beating cyclists in the race for fast and cheap delivery of urgently needed material.

    "I enjoy this. It's a lot of fun. But it's not a tenable way to make a living," said Portland courier Stephen Wagner, taking a break on a park bench. "You'd be dirt poor if you did this for a living."
    -- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7736091/

    (The Economist):
    "The reason is straightforward. High-speed internet, PDF files, digital photography and digital audio have been eroding bike-messenger revenues by between 5-10% a year since 2000, or so reckons Lorenz Götte, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Zurich (and a former bike messenger himself). The revenue slump has sent wages tumbling. In 2000, messengers in San Francisco could make $20 an hour. Now the average is closer to $11."
    -- http://twocitiestwowheels.blogspot.c...essengers.html

    But wait!

    That doesn't mean that the culture is dead. Keep in mind that NASCAR was built around guys runnin' (messengering) moonshine. Now it's the largest spectator sport in the US over MLB, NBA, or NFL.

    "During the Prohibition era of the 1920's and early 30's, the undercover business of whiskey, or "moonshine", running began to boom. More of a problem than secret manufacture of moonshine was the secret transportation of it. The common term for moonshine runners was "bootleggers". Bootleggers were "men who illegally ran whiskey from hidden stills to hundreds of markets across the Southeast. These men were the real Dukes of Hazzard, only there was nothing funny about their business. Driving at high speeds at night, often with the police in pursuit, was dangerous. The penalty for losing the race was jail or loss of livelihood." (1)

    "As bootlegging boomed, the drivers began to race among themselves to see who had the fastest cars. Bootleggers raced on Sunday afternoons and then use, the same car to haul moonshine Sunday night. Inevitably, people came to see the races, and racing moonshine cars became extremely popular in the backroads of the South. Bootlegging continued even after the end of the Prohibition era, because of the huge tax placed on whiskey upon repeal of the Volstead Act in 1933."
    -- http://www.new2nascar.com/history.htm
    Last edited by carleton; 09-25-06 at 09:14 PM.

  2. #2
    YOU ARE NOW TUNED IN No_Minkah's Avatar
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    Hence, alcohol-fueled dragsters. Bringing it full circle.

    There was also an article in the Economist a few months back. People made the point that there are ways that messengers can create new markets for themselves and make themselves indispensible; becoming process servers, or notaries, etc. There are still some things that have to be delivered in person, like legal filings and maybe medical records, I don't know. I'm not a messenger.

  3. #3
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by No_Minkah
    Hence, alcohol-fueled dragsters. Bringing it full circle.

    Yeah! I can't wait to watch a post race interview and hear someone say,

    "Yeah, the #24 Home Depot Nagasawa ran well today. Hats off to my builder and my awesome pit crew. Whew! That last wheel change was slower than we wanted, but we made up that time when that full-course yellow flag came out."

  4. #4
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    ...and what if alleycats/races were held a spots like Laguna Seca and Sears Point Raceway.

    Now THAT would KICK A**!

  5. #5
    how i roll rustang's Avatar
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    i said this same thing with way less words like...an hour ago.
    +1 for me.

  6. #6
    cxmagazine dot com pitboss's Avatar
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    Carlton - Sprint Club RVA did a velo event on a raceway last year. I heard it was pretty cool
    Deathlap - cyclocross, training, beer,...escape hatch

  7. #7
    pfe
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    Messengers are pretty bitter about the internet I think. I asked a bunch if they felt they were being eliminated with the internet and one was like: "NO SOME PEOPLE STILL WANT FLOWERS DELIVERED!" Anyways, think the whole thing sounds like a fun job but technology is phasing out how massive the industry used to need to be. Now it will become more of a niche job to be involved in and not everyone will have 'that messenger friend.'

  8. #8
    LF for the accentdeprived
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    Quote Originally Posted by No_Minkah
    There are still some things that have to be delivered in person, like legal filings and maybe medical records, I don't know. I'm not a messenger.
    The stuff I deliver (once every two weeks subbing for a guy, for an events organizing company) is mostly like that. Applications and stuff to government organs and back, contracts to be signed sent to and from partners, money and bills to and from partners... There's stuff that will always have to travel fast.
    Quote Originally Posted by dutret
    Do you deny that you are clueless or do you just think that "moron" didn't need to be tacked on there?
    Bike on flickr and on FGG

  9. #9
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    actually some digital things cant be delivered any other way than by hand, you arent going to email a video deposition for example, or a bunch of MRI's or CAT scans, or blueprints in huge digital image files

    has it eliminated some business, yup it has, bankruptcy courts went electronic and runs in/our of their disappeared, but OTOH federal court went digital too but still get lots of runs in/out of there because they didnt do a very good job of implementing the system

    here locally there were about 35 messengers just 3 years ago, now there's about 20, none of which was really a decline in business but a lack of growth and the fact that 7 of us went indie which took a whole bunch of business away from the big companies, its always been the legal work driving business around here but there's still plenty of point-to-point runs, its about 40% of my business---those that want to work will work, those that dont, wont, my company is growing at better than 30% per year

  10. #10
    ambassador of good will *new*guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [165]
    Carlton - Sprint Club RVA did a velo event on a raceway last year. I heard it was pretty cool
    I went last year, but never made it down this year. Last year it was held on a short oval track with very slight banking. The "track" surface was pretty rough in spots, but it was still a great time. Sprint Club did a great job--nice prizes and a great assortment of enthusiasts and racers.

  11. #11
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    u cant fax the garmet district

  12. #12
    Oh Hell Yes Hawk Wheels's Avatar
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    The industry is still strong in NYC. Anybody with a bike, bag, and a lock can find work here.

    People have been crying the deathsong since before I started in 92, we are still here.

    One thing that has increased is cargo bike delivery! Also a lot more pedicabs (not sure if that counts).

    Nascar reminds me of Keirin. With track cycling and cycling in general becoming more popular in the states, the sky is the limit..
    Last edited by Hawk Wheels; 09-26-06 at 05:50 AM.
    http://cyclehawk.com/ http://www.nybmf.org/

    Quote Originally Posted by DeafLamb
    if "real messengers" aren't carrying packages, they fill their bags with bricks. Hardcore.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pedex
    actually some digital things cant be delivered any other way than by hand, you arent going to email a video deposition for example, or a bunch of MRI's or CAT scans, or blueprints in huge digital image files
    Yeah it'll be at least another couple of years before thats practical.

  14. #14
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    NetFlix.

    Essetnially electronic entertainment delivered via - envelope and the postman?
    Sure, once the pipeline gets big enough movies on the net may work, but who ever thought the NetFlix pitch would work?



    FixedFlix.

  15. #15
    Jonnys ilegitimate Father cavernmech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton
    ...and what if alleycats/races were held a spots like Laguna Seca and Sears Point Raceway.

    Now THAT would KICK A**!
    Then it ceases to be an Alleycat. Traffic and having to actually think where you have to go is what makes an Alleycat different from other forms of cyclesport.

  16. #16
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cavernmech
    Then it ceases to be an Alleycat. Traffic and having to actually think where you have to go is what makes an Alleycat different from other forms of cyclesport.
    NASCAR + Messengers Racing on Bikes = Red neck Alleycat?

    No brakes, for fixies or cars!
    Alchohol for everyone - spectators and participants and EMT crews!


  17. #17
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cavernmech
    Then it ceases to be an Alleycat. Traffic and having to actually think where you have to go is what makes an Alleycat different from other forms of cyclesport.
    Yeah, speeding around Talledega Raceway is a bit different that speeding through the hills and mountains of Tennessee, but you get my point. It's evolution.

  18. #18
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    isn't londonberry a converted car race track?
    It seems to me like nascar tracks would be incredibly boring. No traffic or change of scenery and crappy banking.

  19. #19
    NoGoSlow HelluvaStella's Avatar
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    As an enginerd, we send out BIG sets of blueprints in 36" long 9" diameter rolls a couple of times a week. You ain't getting that across town any other way. Last week I got into the elevator with the guy who finished one spot ahead of me in the six pack race during the NACCC. I may as well have had a gorilla suit on, he wouldn't have recognized me if I didn't say hey.
    Quote Originally Posted by crushkilldstroy View Post
    I'm Irish. I'd get in a fight over a lukewarm coffee or an untied shoe.

  20. #20
    Senior Member maxknee's Avatar
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    LUKE! where have you been?

  21. #21
    NoGoSlow HelluvaStella's Avatar
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    In a drunken fog. Haha. No, really. The short version:
    Looking at my sad unscrewed bb on the fixed I thought to myself "Self, you can fix this. Just pull the cranks, unscrew the fixed cup and take it to Via so they can sell you the right size obscure flat wrench." So I bought a crank puller that wasn't long enough. Then I bought the right size crank puller. Once the cranks were off I thought "Self, you can't take that cup to Via all dirty and gritty, you'll be chastised!" So I cleaned it and thought why not pull the whole thing and do a little overhaul? So I did. Then I realized Stella is out of commision for a while anyway, so what better time to strip the frame and drop it off at our local tall bike rider/frame painter extraodinaire?

    OK, not the short version, but the bottom line is that my frame is getting sandblasted and painted cream with medium brown tracing on the lugs. I bought the el-cheapo hubs to built up a shiny set of wheels. I've got my eye on a honey Brooks b17 and the matching leather bar tape ($59?!?), a pair of eggbeaters, new seatpost (suggestions?), chain, Sugino RD cranks, more I haven't considered. Fun fun fun and it'll probably be done just in time for winter. Yay!

    How have you been? Did you see your pics from NACCC on the Demoncats site?
    Quote Originally Posted by crushkilldstroy View Post
    I'm Irish. I'd get in a fight over a lukewarm coffee or an untied shoe.

  22. #22
    Senior Member maxknee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HelluvaStella
    In a drunken fog. Haha. No, really. The short version:
    Looking at my sad unscrewed bb on the fixed I thought to myself "Self, you can fix this. Just pull the cranks, unscrew the fixed cup and take it to Via so they can sell you the right size obscure flat wrench." So I bought a crank puller that wasn't long enough. Then I bought the right size crank puller. Once the cranks were off I thought "Self, you can't take that cup to Via all dirty and gritty, you'll be chastised!" So I cleaned it and thought why not pull the whole thing and do a little overhaul? So I did. Then I realized Stella is out of commision for a while anyway, so what better time to strip the frame and drop it off at our local tall bike rider/frame painter extraodinaire?

    OK, not the short version, but the bottom line is that my frame is getting sandblasted and painted cream with medium brown tracing on the lugs. I bought the el-cheapo hubs to built up a shiny set of wheels. I've got my eye on a honey Brooks b17 and the matching leather bar tape ($59?!?), a pair of eggbeaters, new seatpost (suggestions?), chain, Sugino RD cranks, more I haven't considered. Fun fun fun and it'll probably be done just in time for winter. Yay!

    How have you been? Did you see your pics from NACCC on the Demoncats site?
    sounds like quite the overhaul. but thursdays have been so uneventful without you. also: come to the preztel ride on your cruiser. and oct 21st party my place kegs!

  23. #23
    NoGoSlow HelluvaStella's Avatar
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    Max,

    I'm there! For the kegs, that is. The cruiser, sad to say, must go to Via tomorrow. Luke the Destroyer crashed it last week coming home late at night. Pulls to the right, so I'm guessing the forks have to go in a jig. I HOPE that's all the Schwinn needs, it's my war wagon. Maybe a Thrash on the raod bike? We'll see.
    Quote Originally Posted by crushkilldstroy View Post
    I'm Irish. I'd get in a fight over a lukewarm coffee or an untied shoe.

  24. #24
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Hey guys, thanks for including your PMs here for all of us to read.

  25. #25
    NoGoSlow HelluvaStella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton
    Hey guys, thanks for including your PMs here for all of us to read.

    OK Mr. "Welcome from Club Med post that has nothin' to do w/ fixed gear/ss." Just kidding. Smootchies
    Quote Originally Posted by crushkilldstroy View Post
    I'm Irish. I'd get in a fight over a lukewarm coffee or an untied shoe.

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