Become a Bicycle Courier
Imagine pedaling your bike through the city at full speed – swerving to miss an ice cream cart then making a quick jump over the cement curb and skidding to a stop in front of a towering office building – locking your bike to the closest lamppost and running to the elevator, which whisks you to the 15th floor. At reception, you drop off legal documents for a prestigious lawyer. As you leave, you contact headquarters for your next assignment…That’s what a bike messenger does. Bike messengers deliver things by bike. It sounds simple, but it is demanding work. Bikes can maneuver through traffic jams and streets fast – a huge benefit for people that work in the quick paced world of business.
Bike messengers work all over the world – London, Minneapolis, Helsinki, Sydney, San Francisco, Seattle, or Denver. And everywhere in the world they do the same thing.
Bike messengers deliver all sorts of things – CDs, DVDs, gifts, legal documents, instruments, shoes, gifts, artwork, clothes, signed documents, or just about anything.
In recent years, technology has significantly impacted the job of bike messengers, but the fashion industry, television industry, Wall Street, and big businesses are still reliable clients. When people need a delivery, they call the local bike company for a bike messenger. The company uses a dispatcher to contact the bike messenger. The dispatcher tells the messenger where they need to pick up the item, what it is, and where the messenger needs to take it.
Once the bike messenger receives the call from dispatch, they are off. It is their goal to get the item from point A to point B as fast as possible – jumping over dogs, swerving to avoid jaywalkers, veering to miss strollers, or leaping over puddles, it’s all part of the job. Delivering things by bike is risky work indeed. Traffic is dangerous. Both cars and people are obstacles that must be avoided. Car doors are extremely hazardous. Bike messengers have to follow all traffic rules and use the utmost caution. On average at least one bike messenger dies each year, while countless others are injured. They need safety equipment like helmets and headlamps. Because of the hazards, there is lots of job turnover.
If you want to be a bike messenger, get on your bike. You can use any type of bike that you are comfortable with – road, hybrid, mountain, or BMX. Be in the best shape you can imagine and be able to bike in all types of weathers over all types of terrain – uphill, downhill, pedestrian filled sidewalks, car packed highways. Learn the city’s back routes, bridges, sidewalks, and alleys. The first step toward a job is to contact bike messenger or courier companies. Be sure to consider their safety record. You will work directly with dispatch for your assignments. Plan on having your biking, navigating, and delivering skills tested when you start.
Bike messengers work 9 to 10 hours per day. They are paid on commission for runs. They can plan on about $3 to $5 per run, with more for rush deliveries, big packages, bad weather, or tough routes. For an average week, they will earn $200 to $400. Pay depends on your employer, speed, dependability, credibility, and location. This green job takes a committed bike enthusiast who is willing to take on the risks of riding fast in the city. It’s definitely cool to be outside all day, cruising around the city, being your own boss. Plus, every day is different and you’ll never get bored.
Quick Facts About Bike Courier Jobs
Job Title: Bike Messenger
Office: On bike in the streets of a city Description: Deliver things by bike
Certifications/Education: No formal education needed
Necessary Skills: Fit, Knowledge of bike routes in area, Able to accept risks, Bike rider
Potential Employers: Independent contractor or employed by messenger companies
Pay: Commission based, Plan on $200 to $400 per week, or about $5 per run
Helpful Bike Courier Employment Links:
Search Bike Courier Job Openings on JobMonkey
Bike Messenger Emergency Fund
International Federation of Bike Messenger Associations
New York Bike Messenger Association
Messenger Institute for Media Accuracy