martes, 14 de noviembre de 2017

The Bike Messenger Boom

Rappi bike messengers in a bike lane near the Zona Rosa in north Bogotá.
Years ago, back in Seattle, Washington, I worked as a bicycle messenger. It was one of the best and most memorable jobs I ever held: pumping up those hills, skidding around curvers, zipping down hills, slipping between trucks and buses with only inches to spare: We competed to see who could make the most deliveries in a day, and it was the closest I'll ever come to being a professional athlete.

Rappi messengers waiting for a job outside a
north Bogotá supermarket.
Not the least pleasure I got from it was marching, sweaty and mud-splattered, into the offices of the most high-powered and uptight executive offices in town.

Not long after my time there, bike messenger started dying, the victim of faxes, and then e-mail. Today, I suspect, the only things still messengered are food, medical supplies and, maybe, art pieces.

My old company, Elliot Bay Messengers, is gone now.

But Bogotá, it seems, is still behind the curve in information technology, and bike messengering is booming. A number of small companies pioneered the industry, but it took the smartphone boom and deep pockets such as Rappy and Uber Eats to make it the ubiquitous industry it is today.

Don't drop those bags! Dangling lunches off of handlebars.
Unfortunately, the big boys, like Rappi and Uber Eats, employ bicycles out of economics and speed, not any principles of sustainable transport. They also have motorcyclists and, undoubtedly, cars. But bicycles are cheap and slip past traffic jams, particularly thanks to Bogotá's expanding bike lane network. 

Other companies, such as CONTRARRELOJ and A Pedal appear to use exclusively bicycles.

Winding thru traffic.
A local food delivery guy on the pedal.

Frutapp waiting to go.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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