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Messenger Laws and Reports

Licensing, Registration and Labour

There have been many laws enacted to restrict and interfere with established business relationships regarding messengers. This page attempts to list as many of those laws as possible and post the various reports regarding bike couriers. The reports are most often flawed as they are based on anecdotal evidence and personal perceptions rather than scientifically sound statistical evidence.

Labour, Environment and other Issues

THC3 Messenger Industry Handbook

Choking Us To Death - The THC3's report on the air pollution crisis and its health effects on couriers.

The THC3 submitted presentations to help Canada addresss it comittment to the Kyoto protocol to reduce green house gas emissions from transportation sources.

THC3 Transportation Table Address #1

THC3 Transportation Table Address #2

Food As Fuel - The fight to allow bicycle and foot couriers a tax deduction on the extra food required for them to perform their jobs.

Canada Post Act - The courier industry must be one of the very few that needs to have a minimum price set by federal law.

Workers Compensation Board - Ontario's Bike and foot couriers are automatically covered. - More info to come.


The latest city council prepared to waste tax payer dollars on laws that proved ineffective in other cities is:

Pittsburgh - check on Pittsburgh's licensing news

"Messengers don't like Council's signals"
"Council needs to put the brake on an overreaching bill"
"Ordinance would curb messengers' pedal privileges"
The Hall of shame winner and the council that never lets civil rights get in the way of laws that fail:


More bicycle messenger laws in Boston? - February 2000

The New Boston Courier Regualtions 1998- This is the one passed August 1998

Boston's Old Law This one didn't discriminate enough so they amended it to make apease bigots.
Can Boston Handle the Truth - My thoughts on the Boston Crash Controversy

Bicycle Backlash in Boston and Unionization

Seatlle's Messengers Defeat Licensing - How Seatlle's bike messengers successfully fought against licensing.

Vancouver's License Law passed in 1989- This is the one that forces couriers to take a written and road test and provides the Bicycle Association of British Columbia (BABC) with cash to do it.

Washington D.C.'s Law passed in 1988 - This one inspires the police to get out the paddy wagon and go around confiscating messenger's bikes because they are not registered. 

New York's Laws:
New York's Bicycle Laws - for all bikes including ones for messengers.

Messenger License Law - in more detail and only for messengers

How NYC fought the bike ban: Fifth, Park and Madison - Transportation Alternatives
Chicago's Law- This one has led to messengers spending three hours in jail
More info on Chicago's law

License infomation from the City of Chicago

San Francisco's Law

also check out an article in "Tubular Times", from April 1993 entitled "A Ticket for What? SFPD Cracks Down on Messengers"

Philadelphia's Law:

Philadelphia's 1997 Law

Bicycle Coalition of the Delaware Valley   - was against this law here its position

Councillor Happy Fernandez's press release on her bill

-"Your Sidewalk is My Sidewalk", Philadelphia City Paper

Calgary's Law

Various Reports on Messengers

Societe de l'assurance automobile du Quebec Reportfrom 1992 - This is the summary in English. It studied many cities and recognized the limitations of insufficient data.

The City of Ottawa's Report from 1992 - The City decided against licensing messengers

Vancouver Report on Licensing- From 1988. This report formed the basis for the City's license and testing program for couriers

Vancouver Follow-up to Above Report 1988 - This report recomends licensing, requiring couriers to take a course and looks at liabilty insurance.

Vancouver Survey on Couriers - This is after licensing went through. It includes comments from messengers on the program.

Bicycling Association of B.C. (BABC)'s Reporton the above survey - Their interpretation on how the licensing program has worked.

My CanBike experience - during Injury Prevention Week 1997 with the police

Toronto's Licensing Reports and Info

Toronto City Councillor Steve Ellis' 1997 Comments on those evil enemies of the people. He lost his seat in the very next election.

Toronto's Draft Law from 1991 - This was never passed but any future law would probably start with this draft.

Toronto's Bicycle Laws - By-laws and the Highway Traffic Act and fines

More on Toronto's Laws from ARC

The Toronto City Cycling Committee's (TCCC) 1992 Report - This is a report on licensing all cyclists in Toronto and couriers. It comes out against licensing.

The TCCC's 1991 Report - Includes the TCCC recommendations to amend the draft by-law. Recommends delaying licensing until more information available.

The TCCC's 1987 Report - This report is about registering couriers as well as licensing all cyclists.

The Association of Professional Urban Cyclists' (A.P.U.C.) 1991 submissions on licensing - bike couriers' views on the matter.

The Lawful and the Awful (1991) - workshops on improving cyclists behavior and enforcement issues. No couriers involved in the workshops - so guess what they recomend, with no evidence.

Metro Toronto Police Comments on Licensing Couriers - from 1992

Sunwheel Couriers Report - from 1989. A courier company's recomendations

Messenger Contracts - This is a contract companies use to attempt to avoid labour laws and ethical behaviour.

Bicycle Laws in the United States - A page listing many states' traffic laws relating to bikes from the MassBike site

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