The following is the summary of a study on bicycle couriers by the Societede l'assurance automobile du Quebec from 1992. It was prepared in French.This is the only part I have in English. Once I get it translated I wilput the whole thing up.
Note that although the study comes out against licensing, once againit did not consult couriers. It did, however consult cyclists' associations,like they are experts on messengers.
Also note this was prepare by an automobile insurance group.
This document provides food for thought on the safety concerns involvingbike couriers based on the experience, opinions and perceptions of municipalauthorities in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, New YorkCity and Washington, D.C. as well as of cyclists' associations in Canadaand the United States.
Consultations have brought to light the following points:
The safety of bike couriers is currently a concern to both municipalauthorities and to cycling activists; couriers are a reality that seemshere to stay in the downtown core of large cities on the North Americancontinent;
the safety aspect as it relates to this type of road user is littleknown, even ignored because of a lack of data of their involvement in accidentsand of reliable complaint records, hence the difficulty of taking stepsto alter the situation;
exposure factors to the risk of road accidents that characterize bikecouriers are related to the nature of their employment and the trafficenvironment: their age (18-25 years), sex (mostly males), employment status(mostly an contract, paid on a delivery or commission basis and workingfull time on the road), the purpose of their work (rapid delivery), theirarea of operation (business section with heavy vehicular traffic and numerouspedestrians, etc.);
typical risk behaviour of bike couriers consists above all in travelon sidewalks, riding against traffic on one-way streets and crossing againsta red light. There is nothing to indicate, however, that they act morerecklessly than other cyclists using the downtown core of a city wherevehicular and pedestrian traffic is heavy. It is reasonable to assume thattheir behaviour draws attention mainly because their clothing and bag (oftenbearing the company name or courier service logo) make them more visible;
the accident rates for bike couriers in Montreal show that they areoverrepresented in accident statistics for bicycle riders at large (sixtimes more likely than other riders), but which can easily be explainedby the distance the couriers cover and the amount of time they spend onthe road. Couriers probably have no more of a propensity far accidentsper kilometre travelled than other bicycle riders; the difference in mishaprates between the two groups might well be statistically insignificant.For that reason, caution is advised in imputing accident risk to couriersin order to justify specific intervention targeting this type of road user;
provisions to create a legal framework that would structure the localactivities of bike couriers have either been put into place or are underdiscussion in cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, New York and WashingtonD.C., reflecting a willingness an the part of authorities and cyclists'associations to get a handle an the situation, whether or not a road safetyproblem has been rigorously identified. The aim is to track offenses bybike couriers and keep safety record statistics;
objections to special legal measures for bike couriers relate to thecost of implementing provisions intended for relatively few individualsand the difficulty of attributing safety gains to specific measures. Thepotential impact on the courier business is also a concern.
In summary, our conclusions are twofold:
1. Despite a certain lack of precise and specific statisticaldata, it seems that bike couriers do not have, per kilometre travelled,an accident rate above the average for all cyclists;
2. Whenever as necessary, it appears possible for a municipalityto control bike couriers as showed by the New York City experience.
back to lawsand reports
If you have comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org