It takes all types.
For some reason I get calls and emails asking how to become a bike messenger. I don't hold any magic key, or gateway to working as one, particularly here in Melbourne.
My advice to anyone wishing to become a wheeled delivery person is to do what I did. Call all the companies in the phone book, ask if they are hiring, and keep calling until they do. Perhaps learning that patience and perserverance is a trait that you'll definitely need on the job.
You could try hanging out at the 'spot' and asking other couriers for jobs, but that method only works if you already know someone. When I started I obviously knew no one.
I should make it clear that being good at riding a bike and being fit has little to do with it, although I commonly used the line 'there is no one faster' in subsequent interviews I did have and it worked. What you need to be a bike courier is turn up everyday, on time with the right attitude and ready to ride.
On the topic of courieringering, once upon a while ago I was a bike messenger in New York. Just one of the thousands of van, car, cycle and foot messengers delivering anything from hot food to 70lbs cast iron chair bases. At night I worked at a restaurant delivering food for tips in the East Village. I could write a book on that experience alone.
I will never forget my first envelope addressed to 350 5th Avenue, and discovering the delivery was to the Empire State Building. It's one of the few buildings in New York messengers are allowed access to, that you take the elevator to the floor and hand deliver whatever it is you are carrying. Most skyscrapers have messenger centres in the bowels of the building, generally accessed from the opposite side of the posted address. I delivered the envelope and asked if I could take a look out the window. I followed the receptionship through the rabbit warren of walls, leading me to the boardroom facing downtown. I took my camera out, and she asked if I wanted to use their tripod! All that talk about Noo Yawkers being unfriendly I say is mostly nonsense.
NYC was always a dream for me. I'd been inspired by a fellow bike courier Superkid when I worked in London to go there, and eventually I did. Not only that but I made great friends on the road, had some epic race battles and got to see and experience a part of the city that you can't buy a ticket for. Through the rain, wind and snow. Days when I'd go to work dressed like I was going to the snow. Days when I'd be carrying 6 portfolios on my back from midtown to downtown. Days when I'd collapse on the couch, consume my weight in Chinese for $5, sleep and do it all again.
When I left I was no longer called an 'out of towner' by fellow bike messengers, they called me something else and it stuck.
If you've never been, get drunk on the visuals from my last visit to the Big Apple. A lot of bikes in this mix, and some particularly peculiar 'setups'.
For the life of me I don't know why my plugin is giving me a headache so I've split the images across two galleries. Looks like they take after the city they were taken in....