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Are gas prices positively impacting couriers?

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Are gas prices positively impacting couriers?

Old 07-03-08, 12:26 PM
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Are gas prices positively impacting couriers?

I figure this is the best forum to ask this question.

I know that with the use of electronic document formats, etc. there's been a drastic reduction in the necessity for bike couriers.
Is anyone who pedals for a living seeing a rise in small package traffic with the increase in gas prices? Stuff that people might usually send via delivery drivers (flowers, food, etc.) that are now enlisting bike couriers to save gas costs?
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Old 07-03-08, 10:58 PM
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I see couriers doing flower deliveries from time to time.

It is an interesting implication. Seems like when gas prices in America are on par with what they are in Europe and Japan, there should be an increase in demand for couriers and food delivered via velo. Maybe it's not a dying profession after all.
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Old 07-03-08, 11:09 PM
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Bike messengers in DC are hurting for work. I'm doing freight, but barely surviving. The rates charged for short haul box jobs have increased because of fuel costs. Freight biking is more lucrative now than it was five years ago but it is still low paying and income from delivery of 'messages' continues to drop for the average biker. DC has two full time freight bikers at this time.
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Old 07-03-08, 11:15 PM
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I never understood why places like Jimmy Johns still use automotives instead of bicycles. In a larger city, one food-provider only covers a small area and the use of bicycles only makes sense.
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Old 07-04-08, 01:21 AM
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jimmy johns uses bike delivery in chicago.
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Old 07-04-08, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by matt wisconsin View Post
I never understood why places like Jimmy Johns still use automotives instead of bicycles. In a larger city, one food-provider only covers a small area and the use of bicycles only makes sense.
Riding home the other day and seeing delivery drivers stuck in traffic is what got me to wondering about this in the first place. If the pizza and sandwich joints used bikes for the shorter runs, even if they did so only during the heavier traffic times (lunch and evening traffic rush) I bet they could cut delivery times significantly.
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Old 07-04-08, 11:58 AM
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There is a courier company in Toronto Called GreenTeam or something... claiming that they don't use any gas powered vehicles etc. within the core.
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Old 07-04-08, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by bionnaki View Post
jimmy johns uses bike delivery in chicago.
Indianapolis, too.
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Old 07-04-08, 12:43 PM
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A lot of restaurants in NY use bicyclists to deliver take-out. But they're mostly done in crappy full suspension mountain bikes with large metal baskets attached to the front. Nothing like the glamorous idea of the trackbike wielding courier with a messenger bag full of goodies, zooming through red lights in a zen-like trance.
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Old 07-04-08, 01:06 PM
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I can tell you first hand that suspension MTBs are more realistic than track bikes for food delivery. I did a burrito delivery job last summer and used an MTB for the first month but it bogged me down with too many mechanical problems after a month and I switched to a KHS track. The track bike was a lot more fun, as well as way more dangerous (did it brakeless), but nowhere near as practical. You can ride with a lot more disregard for curbs and potholes with the MTB. You have to be more careful with the track bike because food is easy to spill and mess up en route. I had my routes down for all the places I went on how to avoid red lights and stop signs so as to get their in one continuous ride, because sometimes I'd be carrying loads as heavy as 40 or 50lb in two heat bags stacked on top of eachother in a rear rack/basket, which meant that if I wasn't on the bike riding or standing over the top tube, the whole thing would wheelie over and fall over.


Let's not also forget that most of the people who do bike delivery don't know or care much about bikes outside of work, unlike most bike couriers. But the pay is decent, the hours are better and the tips can be amazing depending on your attitude and clientele...
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Old 07-05-08, 10:31 AM
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i got get me a honda car.
 
Old 07-05-08, 10:39 AM
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fla i work for a law firm x rays and bank depos mail .settlement checks courthouse ..
has not changed in years for me
cheers
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Old 07-05-08, 10:46 AM
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i do pizza and food associated with pizza here and while it doesnt cut down on delivery time all that much people are often happy to see it being delivered via bike.
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Old 07-05-08, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by mavimao View Post
A lot of restaurants in NY use bicyclists to deliver take-out. But they're mostly done in crappy full suspension mountain bikes with large metal baskets attached to the front. Nothing like the glamorous idea of the trackbike wielding courier with a messenger bag full of goodies, zooming through red lights in a zen-like trance.
There is a large contingent of the latter, mostly in Brooklyn. Which I find kind of weird.
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Old 07-05-08, 11:39 AM
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Old Town Pizza in Portland. They're running Worksman trikes and Bakfietsen. Good pizza, too.

As someone with enough disposable income to be able to afford carry-out from time to time, I would be far more likely to buy food from a business that delivered it to my house by bike. Same for floral deliveries. Since I don't own a car with all the expenses that go with one, I can afford to shell out a generous tip, too. I know there are plenty of people in Portland who feel the same way as I do, even if they don't tip as well at first... (they'll learn)

I wonder what would be more cost effective - for a business to employ a courier for just them or for them to contract with a service that does deliveries for multiple businesses? And then, which scenario has the potential to be better for the couriers themselves?
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Old 07-05-08, 12:55 PM
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A Jimmy John's here in Lansing, MI had an ad out saying they were looking for bike deliverers. I went and talked to the manager and the the delivery radius was like 2 miles East and West, and less than 2 miles North and South. At first he seemed pretty excited that someone wanted to do it on a bike, but when I went for an interview the first question he asked is "Okay, so do you have a car?" He said he decided it was too far to do by bike, even after I told him I had just ridden almost 5 miles just to get there.

He obviously had no idea, and I'm pretty sure the ad was put out by corporate people that were a lot more aware of bike capabilities.
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Old 07-05-08, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewj View Post
A Jimmy John's here in Lansing, MI had an ad out saying they were looking for bike deliverers. I went and talked to the manager and the the delivery radius was like 2 miles East and West, and less than 2 miles North and South. At first he seemed pretty excited that someone wanted to do it on a bike, but when I went for an interview the first question he asked is "Okay, so do you have a car?" He said he decided it was too far to do by bike, even after I told him I had just ridden almost 5 miles just to get there.

He obviously had no idea, and I'm pretty sure the ad was put out by corporate people that were a lot more aware of bike capabilities.
It is a sad day indeed when the faceless corporate entity behind the scenes knows more about something than the guy actually running the place...
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Old 07-05-08, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewj View Post
A Jimmy John's here in Lansing, MI had an ad out saying they were looking for bike deliverers. I went and talked to the manager and the the delivery radius was like 2 miles East and West, and less than 2 miles North and South. At first he seemed pretty excited that someone wanted to do it on a bike, but when I went for an interview the first question he asked is "Okay, so do you have a car?" He said he decided it was too far to do by bike, even after I told him I had just ridden almost 5 miles just to get there.

He obviously had no idea, and I'm pretty sure the ad was put out by corporate people that were a lot more aware of bike capabilities.
I am willing to bet the opposite happened. I would almost guarantee that what happened is the shop manager decided it would be a great idea to have bicycle delivery staff and posted the sign you said he had up. Someone above him (likely his owner/operator under duress from corporate, if not corporate themselves in the event that he was also the operator) made him renig on the idea.

The reason it never worked in Milwaukee is this reason. I used to manage a location in the downtown area, and as an avid biker and friend to many other employees who are avid bikers, sponsored BMX riders, skateboarders, you name it... I always supported the idea. At the end of the day, it all boiled down to one word: liability. They would claim to me, that if I got hit by a bus, or private vehicle, they would get sued. I would offer the counter-argument that we would function much like many bike messenger outfits, including Breakaway in Milwaukee, by operating as our own LLC/Inc. We would be "hired" as subcontractors by the store, and paid however we get paid to do whatever it is we do. Then, they would say "well gee then Mike, how is a guy on a bike supposed to deliver 6 30 piece party platters huh smartguy? ha ha ha ha!" I would respond, gee whiz! The guy in the car would take that ****! There would be 2-3 full time car drivers, and 2-3 full time bike riders for lunch/dinnertime every day. Bikes serve a 1 mile radius ring around the store, and the cars go everywhere else. I even did it one day at the Marquette store myself personally, as proof of concept, much to their chagrin, and I made more in tips and took more in pre-tax sales than a guy driving a CR-V. In an hour less time. On a mountain bike in 95 degree Wisconsin humidity. This was about 3 years ago.

In short, it IS a great idea, and it makes ENTIRELY too much sense for some people. There are small market stores that do employ the use of bikes, but I can't be confident in saying that isn't merely part of a labor saving measure to have inshop workers hop on their bikes and deliver at the same hourly rate rather than pay another subset of employees a wage to deliver 5 subs a night after 10pm. Most of our stores did over $30,000 a week and so I guess they felt they would lose out somehow, rather than gain exponentially, on reducing the number of car based delivery drivers and increasing local delivery response time and thus customer satisfaction, loyalty and driver tip totals.

I didn't get it either. Maybe some neanderthals will change their closed minded thinking now that gas is approaching $5/gal and it will be quite difficult to find people willing to dump that kind of money into their driving, even though you DO (at least, in our markets) make plenty of money driving. In the end, though, nobody is in it to make the drivers money, be they using bikes or cars. That won't change anywhere.

Last edited by cizzlak; 07-05-08 at 02:16 PM. Reason: addendum
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Old 07-05-08, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by cizzlak View Post
I am willing to bet the opposite happened. I would almost guarantee that what happened is the shop manager decided it would be a great idea to have bicycle delivery staff and posted the sign you said he had up. Someone above him (likely his owner/operator under duress from corporate, if not corporate themselves in the event that he was also the operator) made him renig on the idea.

The reason it never worked in Milwaukee is this reason. I used to manage a location in the downtown area, and as an avid biker and friend to many other employees who are avid bikers, sponsored BMX riders, skateboarders, you name it... I always supported the idea. At the end of the day, it all boiled down to one word: liability. They would claim to me, that if I got hit by a bus, or private vehicle, they would get sued. I would offer the counter-argument that we would function much like many bike messenger outfits, including Breakaway in Milwaukee, by operating as our own LLC/Inc. We would be "hired" as subcontractors by the store, and paid however we get paid to do whatever it is we do. Then, they would say "well gee then Mike, how is a guy on a bike supposed to deliver 6 30 piece party platters huh smartguy? ha ha ha ha!" I would respond, gee whiz! The guy in the car would take that ****! There would be 2-3 full time car drivers, and 2-3 full time bike riders for lunch/dinnertime every day. Bikes serve a 1 mile radius ring around the store, and the cars go everywhere else. I even did it one day at the Marquette store myself personally, as proof of concept, much to their chagrin, and I made more in tips and took more in pre-tax sales than a guy driving a CR-V. In an hour less time. On a mountain bike in 95 degree Wisconsin humidity. This was about 3 years ago.

In short, it IS a great idea, and it makes ENTIRELY too much sense for some people. There are small market stores that do employ the use of bikes, but I can't be confident in saying that isn't merely part of a labor saving measure to have inshop workers hop on their bikes and deliver at the same hourly rate rather than pay another subset of employees a wage to deliver 5 subs a night after 10pm. Most of our stores did over $30,000 a week and so I guess they felt they would lose out somehow, rather than gain exponentially, on reducing the number of car based delivery drivers and increasing local delivery response time and thus customer satisfaction, loyalty and driver tip totals.

I didn't get it either. Maybe some neanderthals will change their closed minded thinking now that gas is approaching $5/gal and it will be quite difficult to find people willing to dump that kind of money into their driving, even though you DO (at least, in our markets) make plenty of money driving. In the end, though, nobody is in it to make the drivers money, be they using bikes or cars. That won't change anywhere.

Surprisingly I don't think that was the case. The ad was in the local paper, and I emailed the guy who posted it. He didn't actually work at said store and that I needed to go talk to the manager. So I'm thinking it was just some guy from HR or something similar.

But all in all, it is a bummer. Like you said, maybe some day people will changed their minds. It won't come soon enough.
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Old 07-05-08, 02:39 PM
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If there are multiple locations nearby, or not necessarily always nearby, either... it could have just been a franchisee with a 10+ store contract and his own "HR Department" that put out ads like that to get interest/applications into the stores. We had a central office for our 8 stores, and they occasionally would blanket hire for all locations, but generally as I mentioned, our stores were in high traffic areas of big bad Milwaukee, and individual locations rarely had problems staffing. The only downside of that approach is that you can't bend rules as easily
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Old 07-05-08, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by matt wisconsin View Post
I never understood why places like Jimmy Johns still use automotives instead of bicycles. In a larger city, one food-provider only covers a small area and the use of bicycles only makes sense.
In Austin, TX the Jimmy Johns downtown employs bicycle delivery people. It seems like an awesome job but also highly coveted.
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Old 07-06-08, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by bionnaki View Post
jimmy johns uses bike delivery in chicago.
In Gainesville, as well.
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Old 07-06-08, 02:49 PM
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as a car driver, it's deff making an inpact on my wallet.
 
Old 07-06-08, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by hockeyteeth View Post
In Gainesville, as well.
In dayton and athens(sometimes, haven't seen it in awhile) as well. I was about to go apply last time they had a now hiring drivers sign.
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Old 07-06-08, 04:36 PM
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my rates just went up. woo.
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