By JAMIE PILARCZYK
The Tampa Tribune, May 28, 2008
As driver manager for Speedy Courier Service's Tampa office, 201 E.
Kennedy Blvd., he coordinates drivers before taking to the streets on
his 18-pound, Dolan track bike. He said he's the city's only bicycle
He pedals from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Harbour Island
and Dale Mabry Highway to Ybor City, delivering packages and papers. He
averages 15 runs a day, coordinating them on a circuit each morning and
keeping a 20-mph pace. That's after he cycles from his apartment near
Florida and Fowler avenues, following Florida into downtown while his
car sits in his driveway.
Japenga, 19, covers about 200 miles weekly, cycling for groceries,
exercise and recreation. Last Thanksgiving, he rode from Tampa to
Savannah, Ga. It took him four days each way.
He started using his bicycle as his sole form of transportation when he
moved to Tampa from eastern Michigan 10 months ago, doing it as a test
in living simply and cutting his expenses. He also wanted to get to
know the city.
Since then, he has helped start the Tampa Bike Co-op (
www.tampabikecoop.wordpress.com), a group of cycling enthusiasts that
meets the first Monday of the month at Transition Art Gallery, 4215 E.
Q. How do you like being a bike courier?
A. It's the best job I've ever had. It's personally rewarding and pays
my bills. When you love riding bikes, it's convenient to find a job
that will pay you to do it.
Q. Why do you think there aren't more bike couriers in Tampa?
A. I don't know. Places like New York, Philadelphia, D.C. and San
Francisco have bike courier associations, and they are well known. I
think it has to do with the urban sprawl here.
Q. How do you keep your energy up throughout the day?
A. We keep oatmeal and peanut butter in the office. I drink a gallon or
two of water a day.
Q. How do you carry all of the packages?
A. I have a messenger bag that holds a lot. I have pumps, tubes, a rain
jacket in there. A bungee cord will go a long way.
Q. Why use a bicycle for transportation?
A. I found a ton of personal benefits. It was very empowering to see a
huge city by using my own power to get around. ... We've really
overlooked that we have this simple machine we can use to do everything
we're capable of. Bikes are better. I'm a bike nerd.
Q. How do the cycling conditions here compare to Michigan?
A. I came from the suburbs in the village of Romeo. Coming to the city
was a rude awakening. The city planning here is pretty terrible.
Drivers don't know how to react to cyclists. They have little patience.
Q. Do you have advice for drivers?
A. Have a little patience. Pass a cyclist like you would another motor
vehicle. We have full right to the road just like you do.