|Toronto's wild riders get a hearty
Lastman declares appreciation day for bike couriers
Toronto Star, October 10, 1998
By Theresa Ebden
Being a year-round bike courier in Toronto is tough work, but Derek
Chadbourne says he's proud to be part of an environmentally sound
industry that turns the wheels of Canadian business.
And when Mayor Mel Lastman officially proclaimed Oct. 9 to be Toronto's
first Messenger Appreciation Day, Chadbourne rejoiced.
"Cars are vile, evil machines that in the last 100 years have claimed
the lives of 25 million people, not counting those who die from
pollution-related illness," said Chadbourne, 34, an interim chair an
as-of-yet-unnamed bike courier group.
"I hate cars; I have no driver's licence; I'll never buy a car. People
are really ignorant in them. A lot of people use them as weapons," said
Chadbourne, an 11-year courier veteran. "I'm going to make it my New
Year's resolution not to even go in a car, ever."
Lastman's proclamation was presented to about 40 couriers at 8.30 a.m.
yesterday by Councillor Jack Layton (Toronto-Don River), who praised
the city's 500 couriers for a smog-free delivery service.
"They are an incredible group of people," said Layton, a year-round
cyclist who serves as chair of the city's cycling committee.
At Standby, the couriers' hangout at Temperance and Yonge Sts.,
Chadbourne recalled his latest road war with a TTC bus. Cyclists are
entitled to an entire lane if they need it, according to the Ontario
"But try telling that to a cop," he said, snickering at cars trying to
drive around the yellow road block used to shut off Temperance St. for
the early morning presentation. The bike couriers kept the bar up all
The notion of an appreciation day came from California, where the 10th
month and ninth day was chosen. Couriers often say "10-9" into the
radio - cop-speak for "say again."
"We can show them appreciation," said Mohammed Shaikh, the operations
manager at Sterling Logistics, a Toronto-based messenger service.
"They're out there in all kinds of weather, rain, sleet, snow. Everyone
blames the courier when something goes wrong."
Yesterday, Shaikh gave his staff free food and radio rentals, which are
normally $4.50 a day. Couriers are paid between $300 and $800 per week
before expenses and taxes. A messenger is considered a "broker" who
makes 60 per cent commission on delivery charges.
Sitting near the barricade in the afternoon sun, one of Shaikh's
employees looked like anything but a broker, in bike gear and colourful
beads. Ben Scott, 22, was feeling pretty rich after the free food, and
promise of free beer at Standby later on.
"Now that's appreciation," he said.