Bicycle Couriers in Love with Life on Mean Streets

This article from March 1993 is the likely first coverage of an alley cat race in the mainstream press. It was on the front page of the Toronto Star with another full page inside. This is before the first Cycle Messenger World Championships. Toronto messengers would bring film of this race and others to the first CMWC in Berlin in August 1993.

Bicycle Couriers in Love with Life on Mean Streets

By Peter Cheney

TORONTO STAR, March 27, 1993

They live the life you may have dreamed of but never had the courage or foolish disregard to try: Out on the fringe, up on the pedals, lungs pumping, eyes and ears keen to a thousand dangers.

The life of the bicycle courier…. You have a primal dream about it: Living by your own skill and cunning, like a gladiator in the Roman amphitheatre, surrounded by fat and decadent citizens who have never known the highs and low of unrestricted experience.

You stride on muscled thighs through offices filled with suited drones, and then take to the streets your natural element. You go to the parties the straights never hear about, develop muscles they have never known, and yes, they’re all thinking it: You have the kind of sex they would give their fortune for.

And you don’t wear a tie, either.

St Valentines Massacre

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Toronto bike messenger killed. Messengers to hold vigil.

Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

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)

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“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.