Toronto bike messenger Mike Rankin, 56 was killed after being struck by a taxi on Wednesday November 7. Rankin, who was wearing a helmet, suffered sever head injuries when he was hit at the intersection of Richmond Street and University Avenue by a taxi driver who said he was clearing the light. Rankin worked for Zap/Cys Courier house (#62)
“Clearing the light” is a term often used to describe a driver who upon seeing his light turn to yellow he puts his foot on the gas to speed through the intersection as the light turns to red. It’s also sometimes referred to as running a red light.
Most bike messengers are killed by large vehicles in the downtown core. It’s quite rare for a bike messenger to be killed by a car as speeds in the core are often slower. In this case Rankin’s helmet was destroyed by the car upon impact.
Toronto messengers are holding a memorial ride today (Friday November 9) at 5pm at the corner of Richmond St and University Avenue.
It’s time to call for nominations for this year’s Markus Cook Award for services to the international messenger community.
This will be the 15th year that the award is presented. It was started by Buffalo Bill in 1998, to remember Markus and to draw attention to messengers whose work benefits all of us.
From the IFBMA’s Markus Cook Award page:
“The MCA for services to the International Messenger Community is not a prize for winning a race. At the time the Award was conceived, CMWC was beginning to be more about the racing than the happening. I [ Buffalo Bill] wanted to re-establish the spirit of the championships, to restate the reason that we all come to this event every year.
The MCA is a reflection of the axiom that everyone who comes to a CMWC is a winner, whether they race or not.
Markus himself was very much in love with the CMWC, and in many ways he was the unlikeliest bike racer imaginable. He was several other things, of course. Editor of Mercury Rising messenger zine, unofficial spokesperson of the SFBMA, leader of L Sid, and a friend to all. The enthusiasm of Markus brought CMWC and the international messenger community toSan Francisco, and it saddens many people to this day that he did not live to see it.
This award is for people that inspire and empower the wider messenger community, that put all of us before themselves.”
The first trailer for the feature bike messenger action movie is here. Many New York City messenger were involved in the making of this movie.
Twelve years ago Toronto bike messengers warned of the dangers of smog to our health in “Choking us to death: The Air Pollution Crisis and Its Effects on Bicycle Couriers.”
Couriers pointed to a unique vulnerability due to exposure to both the ground-level ozone and particulate matter present in smog and to exposure to peek levels of pollution together with long-term exposure to non peak levels.
“Bicycle couriers work all day, year round in the midst of smog. Our lungs have minimal opportunity to recover from the effects of polluted air. We are chronically exposed to high doses of dangerously polluted air for long term, extended periods of time.”
The athletic nature of the profession requires messengers to “spend more time outdoors, breathe faster and engage in vigorous physical activity.”
This danger to couriers is exacerbated by the location of the athletic activity which means that a bike courier’s “lungs are not more than about 10 feet from an exhaust pipe for most of the day.”
Since the release of “Choking us to death,” many studies have confirmed couriers’ concerns.