for pedal power
Veteran non-motorized messenger Wayne Scott honoured
Lobbied for food-as-fuel, against auto advertisements
Toronto Star, October. 9, 2003
By Neco Cockburn
In a light blue long-sleeved shirt, black tie, sunglasses and black
Wayne Scott blends in perfectly as he sits in the shade of office
at the busy corner of York and Adelaide Sts.
That is, until you look down and see his black-and-blue pair of $170
not your average dress shoe.
"I wouldn't be able to do this without these shoes," he says, referring
the pavement pounding and pedal pushing he's done, on and off, in 22
as a non-motorized courier - one of hundreds in the city who run, walk
cycle to deliver packages.
The 52-year-old will be presented today with the Markus Cook Memorial
from the San Francisco-based International Federation of Bike Messenger
It's given each year to an inspirational courier who empowers the
community, and will be handed over at noon as part of Messenger
Day celebrations at Yonge-Dundas Square.
Scott's award stems mainly from a 1998 Federal Court of Appeal victory
he won a case allowing non-motorized couriers to claim a tax deduction
$11 in food per day.
"I was spending all this money to make this pittance, and I realized
it was a cost of employment. I could not do what I was doing without
my vehicle - which was my body - to do it," says Scott, 6 feet tall,
pounds (despite eating a ton), burned down from 189 pounds when he
working.The food-as-fuel decision ended an 18-year battle and
a policy that regarded personally consumed food and drink as a personal
"We pissed away how many tax dollars for this obvious, intelligent,
basic concept that nobody could understand. For me, it's just another
that we live in a deluded society when it comes to the automobile," he
The automobile. The scourge. We'll get to that in a minute.
"A lot of people didn't think he could get it done," says Derek
a former Toronto bike messenger and winner of last year's award.
Chadbourne was on the selection panel for this year's award and calls
Scott's animated and passionate, especially when it comes to the
and improving courier standards. He sits on the city's pedestrian
and in January put forward an idea that all city of Toronto deliveries
an appropriate distance and reasonably sized, must be made with a
The proposal is currently making its way through various departments.
"You take all these cars off the roads every day, you've got less
you've got less pollution, less noise
"It's all better for everybody involved."
Scott's also lobbied against auto ads, writing letters to Advertising
Canada complaining about the portrayal of couriers' driving as
A few years ago, when a General Motors ad suggested drivers should make
themselves, rather than trusting them to "lunatic couriers," Scott
that the ad was environmentally seditious.
"They were saying `take the non-motorized couriers and non-polluting
don't give it to them, put another car on the road.'"
The ad was eventually pulled because it was deemed as demeaning to an
Scott doesn't drive, in case you wondered.
He refers to himself as a "walking anachronism."
He started work as a bike courier in the early `80s. In 1988, he was
by a brick that fell from a construction site on College St., damaging
left shoulder. He eventually recovered and began delivering on foot.
In 1996, he slipped and fell on a wet metal grate on a ramp at Metro
breaking his back - another story.
Couriers had to use a separate entrance in those days - an unsafe
proven by his accident, Scott says. But that changed.
He helped to form an advocacy group, the Toronto Hoof&Cycle Courier
and got the city to change its policy.
He returned to the streets last year, although his injury slowed him a
He now works as a foot courier for The Messengers International,
them after researching the environmental friendliness of various
The company has a dress code, the reason for his shirt and tie.
His actions are well known, and even if younger couriers don't
his name, they know his impact.
Scott says he'll continue to fight for rights in an industry where the
go without such perks as benefits or UI.
"It's slavery, there's no getting around it. Most of the people working
this industry are, when you take the expenses off, working for less
"What I would like to see is a complete overhaul of the entire industry
signed the Kyoto agreement.
"We have the capability of moving a lot more freight than we
do with non-motorized couriers."
And he's going to try to write those shoes off as a business expense.
"We'll see what they do," he jokes.
"It could be another 18-year fight."
about Food as Fuel