Couriers Await 10-9 Day

Vancouver Sun, Thursday October 8 / 98

Stephanie Hutchings' best day as a bike courier meant 80 deliveries and pickups, but on average, she does about 40. She's 25 years old and has been toodling around downtown Vancouver on her bike for about two years. Why? "It gets me outside, there's no boss on your back, good exercise and just fun - it's also an adrenaline rush," she said. On Friday, Vancouver joins San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto in celebrating 10-9 Day, 10-9 being bike courier lingo for "what" (often used by anarchic bike couriers when they want to bug the dispatcher on a bad day by continually repeating "10-9!")

What's the nicest thing anyone has ever done for Hutchings? This past winter, she got a couple of tickets to Slava's Snowshow at the Ford Theatre. And after a spill, she's always appreciated how people have swarmed around her to make sure she's okay. But enough of this mushy stuff: bicycle couriers definitely generate a lot of comments by Traffic Jam readers. Most of it negative. But Hutchings has a few answers. First of all, she says, most couriers try to abide by the law. Secondly, when she rides on the sidewalk for example, she always makes sure it is clear and no pedestrian has to run for cover. Thirdly, Hutchings said a lot of drivers may not realize what cyclists are allowed to do on the road, such as being able to take a full lane. And finally: "Nobody wants us to break any laws until it is their package," she said, especially when there can be a million dollars riding on whether a package gets to a particular destination on time.

Also on the positive side, bike couriers have also helped nab thieves and been the first to administer first aid and call for medical assistance during emergencies, as well as assisting assault victims. So, on Friday, you can check out the city's proclamation of 10-9 Day at the Hongkong Bank of Canada at the corner of Georgia and Howe, near where all the couriers hang out.

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