Category Archives: International

2014 NACCC Minneapolis

One week removed from the event, here is a brief rundown of my 2014 NACCC experience…

I’ll admit, I was apprehensive about traveling to Minneapolis for the 2014 North American Cycle Courier Championship (NACCC).  I’m a bit of an introvert and the thought of being in a strange city with 100+ people that I didn’t know… well, shoot, I was nervous!  Thankfully, I wasn’t alone – Pedal Express co-owner Savanna made the journey as well. In fact, there was a nice Oakland contingent in attendance (shout out to the amazing Lauren, Molli and Heather representing FWOD).

Pedal Express is the only bicycle courier company in the East Bay Area (and we are proud of it!) but at times the job can feel rather isolating. Although there is a thriving messenger community across the Bay in San Francisco, our paths rarely cross – East Bay messengers are kind of an oddity.

[Correction: we were recently joined in the East Bay by the crew at Darling Courier – representing the island of Alameda!]

I went to NACCC primarily to network with the greater messenger community. There are a ton of people across the globe doing the exact same thing that we at PedX are doing – moving shit with bikes. I wanted to hear about other peoples’ experiences. What are some of the challenges that they face? And how can we help each other be successful during a time when large corporate entities (i.e. Google, Amazon, Postmates) are all trying to get into the delivery game?

NACCC is a unique event in that it is organized by and for messengers. The vibes were positive, and I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were already aware of Pedal Express. Folks in attendance came from all over – The Midwest (Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee) and the East Coast (NYC, Baltimore) were well represented. Canada too. SF had a significant presence as well; lots of TCB riders along with the eventual Women’s Champ, Christina Peck of Godspeed Courier. Oh yeah, there were a bunch of Aussies running around too.

One of the industry topics that was widely discussed throughout the weekend was the shift away from legal work and business-to-business delivery, and the growth of business-to-consumer deliveries. The challenges of food delivery was an especially popular topic.   I gained a lot of valuable information that can and will be applied to Pedal Express, to make PedX  even more effective in the months to come.

Throughout the course of the weekend, there was a bunch of bike racing, beer drinking and swimming in rivers (I’ll let the photos fill in the blanks). The tooobing trip on Labor Day was magical – totally one of those moments that will be forever ingrained in my memory banks. I want to say THANK YOU to the organizers for throwing one hell of event, and for showing us around your beautiful city.  I returned home with a greater sense of awareness and respect for the messenger community.

Lastly, Minneapolis is awesome. The riding was fantastic, and the scenery was gorgeous. The people were hospitable, and the food was delish. Totally my kind of town.

Over and out.

– Dominic

De Fietskoerier Utrecht: “The Utrecht Bicycle Messengers”

By Dominic Lucchesi

The Netherlands

Continuing our look at Bicycle Courier Companies worldwide, this entry takes us to the Netherlands.   A country known for it’s extensive network of bicycle paths and facilities, the Netherlands appears to be a cyclist’s dream.  27% of the country’s trips are made by bicycle – this figure jumps to 59% in its cities (for context, the bike mode share in Oakland is 1.8%; in Berkeley, it’s 8.0%).  So, you can see why we’d be interested to know what life is like for a bicycle courier in that part of the globe.

Utrecht

Some time ago, I chatted with Tobias of De Fietskoerier Utrecht (The Utrecht Bicycle Messengers).  Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands.  Interestingly, due to its central location, Utrecht is an important hub for the country’s rail and road transport.   It’s also been the religious center of the Netherlands since the 8th Century.  Neat.

A super cool dude, here’s what Tobias had to say about his profession:

Who are you and where do you operate? And for how long?

We are “De Fietskoerier Utrecht” (translated as “TheUtrecht Bicycle Messengers”) and as our name says, we operate in Utrecht and around.  In January 2014 we celebrate[d] our tenth birthday.  

Can you give us an example of a typical delivery and an atypical delivery?

Difficult, we really do everything.  A lot of work to and from the chamber of commerce and the courthouse, furthermore a lot of design companies and printing companies.  A growing amount of medical deliveries, such as blood, medicines (and sometimes  even a lung).  As well, people call us to send boxes to Mexico, for now we only do the first few kilometers on bicycle…

What kind of bike(s) do you use?

Mostly fixed gear, but also regular racing bikes, single speeds, MTBs and cargo bikes (Bullitt). Also, we have a solar powered electric car for larger deliveries.

Any on-the-job challenges that you may face?

5 different messengers on the road on the same time can be a challenge to manage, however, in the end it always works out fine.

How many riders are in your crew?

We are a collective with 9 owners. Furthermore a group of about 8 freelancers help us out .

What does the future hold for the bicycle courier industry?

More work, also more work in between cities, with for example a train or car in between. 

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: De Fietskoerier Utrecht!

Click here for a short intro movie for the De Fietskoerier Endurance Team.
"A picture of the team just after the World Championships bicycle racing in the Netherlands last year"
“A picture of the team just after the World Championships bicycle racing in the Netherlands last year”
"A picture of our solar powered electric car with messenger Gijs"
“A picture of our solar powered electric car with messenger Gijs”

Lastly, for bicycle courier service in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville, make sure to check out the crew at Pedal Express!

Vélo Courier: Porto Alegre, Brazil

By Dominic Lucchesi

Pedal Express continues our look at bicycle couriers across the globe.  Our latest installment brings us to South America where we got in touch with Alex, worker-owner at Vélo Courier out of Porto Alegre, Brazil.

A real nice dude, read on to find out what he had to say about the bike messenger bizness.  Please note, the Google translation kind of chewed up the responses in English, so I edited them a tad.  We have included a full transcript in the native Portugese at the bottom of the post!

Who are you and where do you operate? And for how long?

My name is Alex, and I work at Vélo Courier.  I’m from Porto Alegre – Brasil.  I started working as a bike courier a year ago, after I decided to leave the office life and be happy.

Example of a typical delivery and an atypical delivery?

We usually transport envelopes, letters, small boxes, etc.  A great example of an unusual delivery, was the time I had to carry a microwave for technical assistance (in the back).

What kind of bike(s) do you use?
Generally steel frames, old bikes with fixed gear, due to low maintenance costs.
On-the-job challenges that you may face?
The main one is the hostility in traffic.  For here, unfortunately, the bike is still not well accepted in traffic. Other challenges are long distance deliveries or too heavy.
 
Number of riders/employees/owners?
6.

What does the future hold for the bicycle courier industry?
Everything, the bike will take the power back!  Unfortunately here in Brazil, the market supply consists mostly of couriers on motorcycles, the famous “moto-boys”, who are, as some would say a “necessary evil” for their violent behavior through the traffic scares a bit.
(Sorry for the english.  “Google Translate” is really why we are not good in your language. I hope you understand, hehe.)
 
Thank you for contacting!  Abraço!
Who are you and where do you operate? And for how long?
Me chamo Alex, tenho 21 anos e trabalho na Vélo Courier, em Porto Alegre – Brasil.
Comecei a trabalhar como mensageiros à cerca de dois anos, quando decidi largar um emprego medíocre e ser feliz logo de uma vez. A cooperativa onde trabalho atualmente tem apenas 6 meses de existência, trabalhei como “free-lancer” antes de fundá-la.
 
Example of a typical delivery and an atypical delivery?
Geralmente transportamos pequenos pacotes, como pequenas caixas, envelopes, cartas, cd’s, flores, etc etc.
Uma entrega atípica, no meu caso e experiência, foi o dia em que tive de transportar um aparelho de microondas para a assistência técnica. Foi muito difícil, pois a mochila era ruim e o aparelho era muito pesado e desengonçado.
 
What kind of bike(s) do you use?
Uso bikes de pinha fixa, como a grande maioria dos funcionários da nossa cooperativa. Tem menores custos de manutenção.
 
On-the-job challenges that you may face?
Pedalar por aqui já é o maior desafio, pois nosso país ainda está caminhando para aceitar a bicicleta como veículo no trânsito. O maior desafio é e sempre será sair pra trabalhar e voltar vivo pra casa.
 
Number of riders/employees/owners?
6.
What does the future hold for the bicycle courier industry?
Tudo! A bicicleta retomará o controle, pelo menos trabalho de 2 à 5hs pedalando para humanizar o trânsito e mostrar às pessoas que uma cidade melhor só depende de nós. Nossa missão, como dizemos, não é passar a vida inteira quase morrendo no trânsito para entregar pacotes de pessoas que não querem correr esse risco, não somos uma rede de fast food, estamos humanizando a cidade para que todos possam transitar em paz por ela.
Novamente, agradeço o carinho e a oportunidade!  Abraço!