Cycle messengers: A really tyring way to work

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

The Independent, July 19, 2011

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.

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