Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bicycle messengers (also known as cycle couriers) have carried packages by bicycle for more than a century, but it wasn't until the 1980s and 1990s that bicycle messengers became cultural icons. With its combination of high risk and low payoff, bike messengering is often seen as the quintessential youth culture job. The urban antihero overtones and sleek fashions (such as Lycra shorts and rugged shoulder satchels) are emblematic of bike messenger sub-culture.
Commission-based compensation encourages risk taking among messengers, who are conversely not party to medical benefits or job security, although some in the messenger community blame a media profile which highlights the outlaw image and fails to focus on the many long-term bicycle messengers who are neither young nor reckless.
There have been sporadic attempts to organise messengers beginning in the mid-'80s with the Independent Couriers Association in New York City which was formed to beat the mid-town bike ban in that city. Since 1993, messengers of the world have come together to celebrate messenger culture and remember their dead at the annual Cycle Messenger World Championships. In the '90s fax machines and modems began to cut into the bicycle messenger business. Anecdotally, in the mid-1980s, Manhattan had 7,000 bike messengers to navigate its crowded streets; by 1994, this anecdotal number had shrunk to 2,000, although part of the story is that a race to the bottom amongst messenger company proprietors seeking market share at the expense of price led to a fall in price per job, leaving many messengers to seek other employment. Average gross earnings reportedly fell from $600 to $300 a week.
Many messengers see their occupation as a sport as well as a job. Bicycle messengers in most cities hold fairly regular urban cycle races known as "alleycats". These races are held informally, that is without notifying the authorities, on open roads and in heavy traffic, to simulate the messenger's working conditions. The most prestigious of these races are held at Messenger's Championships, which take place at American, European and World levels. However, most participants in alleycats would say they compete for fun rather than primarily for competition.
There is a great yet not well-known documentary called Pedal (2001) that documents New York-based bicycle messengers.
Although the idea of bicycle messengers originated in North America, it has now spread almost throughout the developed world. The attraction of this service is that it provides a cheap and fast method of sending messages around an inner-city area with heavy traffic. The bicycle messenger is most common outside America in northern and eastern Europe, with large and organised bodies of couriers in such cities as London, Berlin, Copenhagen, Budapest and Dublin, among others. There is an annual European Cycle Messenger Championships, or "ECMC", which takes place in a different city on the continent every year. Strangely, the concept has never really caught on in southern Europe, which is the heartland of world competitive cycling. As a result, there are very few bicycle couriers in France, Spain or Italy.
- The International Federation of Bicycle Messenger Associations
- The District of Columbia Bicycle Courier Association
- The London Bicycle Messenger Association
- The New York Bike Messenger Association
- The Portland United Messenger Association
- The San Francisco Bike Messenger Association
- The Windy City Bike Messenger Association
- The Messenger Institute for Media Accuracy
- Bicycle Messenger Emergency Fund
- The Muppet League
- About New York City Bike Messenger Lifestyle
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details