Cycle messengers have been part of our cities for more than a century. But despite the fashion for ‘courier chic’, their numbers are declining. Eleanor Morgan saddles up for the day to find out why
I’ve secretly always wanted to be a bicycle courier. Little makes me happier than cycling, whatever the weather. Whenever a courier passes me, I get a sting of jealousy because they get to spend the whole day doing my favourite thing. But would I be cut out for it? Yes, I’m fit – I run between 15-20 miles a week and cycle around 60 – but couriers cycle, on average, 60-80 miles a day in London. That’s basically London to Brighton, five days a week.
I’m confident after cycling around town for eight years, but couriers have a libertine-like reputation for being indifferent to anything, or anyone, on the roads. Could I be reckless enough? I got screamed at by one cycling behind me once because I didn’t plough through a red light and he had to stop. Still, I wanted to try. I always have. So, against the wishes of friends and family, I followed a bicycle courier – or “pushie” – around for the day.