(With Response From Subcommittee On LicensingBike Couriers)


Objectives of By-Laws:

to establish a mechanism for registering business bicycle messengerservices and licensing commercial messengers (as a traffic safety controlmeasure)

to reduce accidents (injuries and fatalities) involving bicycle couriers

to decrease the number of complaints against bicycle couriers

to increase the accountability of bicycle couriers

to provide a mechanism for dealing with complaints against bicycle couriers

to identify the professional bicycle courier and to encourage a professionalimage

to educate the general public about the bike courier industry and abouthazards on the road (automobiles, pedestrians, cyclists and road maintenance)

to establish a standard of professionalism for bike couriers new tothe business

to promote insurance benefits and improvement in bicycle parking facilitiesfor couriers

to encourage the use of bicycles for deliveries


Various agencies and individuals have expressed concerns about the presenceand actions of currently unlicensed bicycle couriers operating in MetropolitanToronto. But, in the debate on whether to license bicycle couriers andif so how that can best be done it is important to remember the real servicethese individuals provide and perform. A system of restrictive licensingor regulation (either economically or in an other fashion) would resultin losses to the region and the city reaching far beyond the real valueof the several hundred jobs and thus the economic base which bicycle couriersrepresent.

The profession represents a type of niche job in which predominantlyyoung people of both sexes, work as independent contractors for largercompanies, delivering mail or small packages across the Toronto area. Lossof jobs for these workers would likely result in long term unemploymentfor riders, whose skills are not easily transferrable. Certainly, any regulationor licensing bylaw which would remove or serious restrict an industry providingfull-time and season work for several hundred. individuals especially thosewho are in the hardest to employ demographic bracket (18-25) would be illconsidered.

In addition, bicycle messengers represent an extremely efficient, non-pollutingmethod of priority messages deliver in the city without either adding toor increasing existing traffic jams or pollution levels. Were bicycle messengersto be prohibited, the result would be increased automobile and truck usefor deliveries carried. out primarily in the central core area. Given theabsolute priority voiced by all levels of local and. regional governmentin improving air quality and decreasing automobile use, this is a possibleramification of prohibitory legislation.

Varying agencies have calculated that cost to the region is between$2,000 and $5,000 annually for each automobile on the road. Taking theaverage of those two findings ($3500) and multiplying it by 300 bicyclecouriers results in a region savings of $1,050,000 in decreased pollution,road maintenance costs, etc. Further, a program which drives individualsfrom these jobs would simultaneously result in higher unemployment insurancecosts to the system at large and, perhaps, higher welfare, job retrainingand other forms of social assistance costs.

Thus on one level, bicycle couriers should be viewed as an efficient,energy conserving and infrastructure cost reducing alternative to automobile-basedcourier systems. In addition, the ranks of this small and independent groupof independent business people can be seen as a type of employment whosemembers at present contribute to the economy but whose skills are not easilytransferrable.


The Toronto City Cycling Committee is pleased. to be working with theMunicipality of Metropolitan Toronto and its Councillors on the issue ofbicycling and, specifically, bicycle couriers. A number of suggestionsand concerns regarding the amending of By-law No.20-85 are included inthis report, a joint effort of both the Toronto City Cycling Committeeand an organization of independent couriers.

We think it obvious that both our groups are more than willing to meetMetropolitan Councillors more than half way in addressing the Council'sconcerns regarding couriers. A great deal of time and effort has gone intodrawing up this proposal, including several meetings of the full City CyclingCommittee and extra hours donated by its volunteer members who have workedwith couriers in creating this proposal.

Not addressed in our suggestions is an issue which strikes at the heartof the amending issue. It has been extremely difficult to precede in thismatter because neither Metropolitan Councillors, City Councillors, Torontoor Metropolitan Police, or any other organization has data of a type ordepth which can substantiate that a traffic or safety problem exists withbicycle couriers. Nor is there any data to indicate the areas in whichbicycle courier-related difficulties occur.

Without this, it is hard to make appropriate suggestions and hard toconstrue the draft By-Law provided. by your members as anything other thanpunitive. Since a by-law whose sole purpose is to regulate or restricta single group on the basis of individual prejudice and without substantiatingdata is, by definition, a bad one our first inclination is to urge youto table any amendments to By-law 20-85 until such time as hard facts areavailable to your members and ours. Further, we are concerned when anyBy-Law restricts a small, economically marginal group's source of incomewithout a compelling reason for that action. To single out bicycle courierswithout substantial and verifiable cause strikes os as repugnant and counterproductive.

Examples of our and Council's ignorance on the matter include thefollowing:

1. How many complaints have been made in recent years by citizensangered or concerned with bicycle couriers? What are the nature of thesecomplaints. Has the incidence of civilian complaints been increasing and,if so, by how much? Do the complaints involve on road bicycle behaviour,"rudeness," illegal activities? The amendment is perceived, apparentlyas necessary at least in part to"increase accountability of bicycledcouriers." But constables patrolling 52 Division in Toronto have toldus their primary concern is that couriers be forced to identify themselveswhen requested to do so by police. That is now required under law, so whatelse is needed?

2. Is the licensing designed, to serve as a "traffic safetycontrol measure," and if so in what way? Are couriers, in fact, a"traffic safety control" problem? Since the number of couriersrelative to cars is minuscule and, in fact, bicyclists free the road forlarger automobiles in the downtown area where couriers congregate it wouldseem on first blush that, in fact, bicycle couriers may in fact be a trafficsafety control boon, not liability.

3. Do bicycle couriers violate existing traffic laws with greaterfrequency than other vehicle users? That is, do they in fact behave inappropriatelyon the road with greater frequency than, say, Taxi drivers, bus drivers,automobile-using couriers and the normal vehicle operator? We suspect thereis no evidence (citations per hundred vehicle users, for example) to suggestcouriers represent a special class in need of restrictive legislation.

4. Certainly there are some inexperienced couriers who, duringthe sum-mer months, may be hired by courier companies. But will licensingof individual couriers solve the problem? Perhaps the way to address Council'sconcerns is through the courier companies. There are certainly courierswho ride inappropriately, just as there are taxi drivers who handle theirautomobiles in irresponsible ways and normal automobile users whose abilityis, to say the least, lamentable. Are accident rates, traffic citationlevels, any other measure of infraction such that special action in factneeds to be taken, here, to restrict this small and economically marginalgroup of independent couriers?

5. We are unaware of any statistics which suggest that bicyclecouriers are more greatly involved in injuries or accidents to propertythan any other type of vehicle user on the road. It is our suspicion, infact, that the small number of professional couriers now on the road havea lower accident, incident, and arrest rate than is the mean for all vehicleusers. They are, after all, rather exposed on their bicycles and in thecase of accident or injury most likely to be disabled and thus to loosetheir source of livelihood. Information on these issues could be collected.But we are unaware of any agency which has, in fact, examined the matterwith regard to this type of information. We are thus faced with acceptingthe assumption of a problem without sufficient information to test thereality of that assumption. This is disturbing. After all, the questionshould not be whether some people find couriers unpleasant in their attitudeor unsightly in their appearance, but rather whether they in any way constitutea greater hazard or danger than other now unregulated couriers and vehicleusers. If the issue is one of violation of existing traffic by-laws, thena new, restrictive and regulatory By-Law would be redundant.

Until or unless such data is collected and a problem is shown to exist,we strongly recommend. amending of By-law 20-85 be tabled until such timeas a need is shown to exist.

Finally, should Council see fit to pursue this matter at this time,we strongly urge that any fee schedules written into the By-Law be keptlow enough to assure that the profession of bicycle courier not be effectivelylegislated out of existence. Pollution Probe estimates that each automobileon the road receives hidden subsidies (largely through infrastructure costs)of between $2000 and $5000 per year from various levels of government.To the degree these couriers use the bicycle, they are choosing a formof transportation requiring minimal subsidy and thus they save all levelsof government monies better spent elsewhere. Further, governments at alllevels have argued for a decrease in automobile use and resulting pollutantsand wastes resulting from automobile use. Metropolitan Toronto's busy CentralBusiness Districts do not need hundreds of additional cars replacing thebicycles these couriers use.

The Toronto City Cycling Committee (TCCC) has supported couriers innoting that there were problems with licensing and that more consultationwas necessary with couriers in order to amend the proposed by-law. Afterseveral meetings with bike couriers and the Association of ProfessionalUrban Cyclists (APUC), the attached recommendations were adopted.

The response to these recommendations from the Subcommittee on LicensingBike Couriers is included (in bold).


1. That the cost of licensing be minimal. courier licence (individual)$10.00 testing (one time fee) on-road $10.00 written $10.00

photo ID ???? courier licence (company) $10.00

* Agree that cost should be lower than firstproposed and should be paid by the courier service not individual bikecouriers.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers statedthat the TCCC/APUC proposal was too low.

2. That all persons being paid to deliver goods be licensed (includingcompany-operated courier pools, taxis delivering goods, and walking couriers).

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers willconsider this as part of the proposed by-law.

3. That photo ID be carried by the courier as a wallet card.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers willconsider this as part of the proposed by-law.

4. That a license number only be displayed so that it is clearlyvisible from the rear of the bicycle.

The license can be attached to:(1) the bike; (2) the bag/pannier; (3)clothing, at the discretion of the courier. The Toronto City Cycling Committeeand the Association of Professional Urban Cyclists would want input onthe design of the license.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers willconsider this as part of the proposed by-law.

5. That the introduction of the by-law should allow sufficienttime after approval by Council to allow couriers to be tested and acquirethe license. Temporary ID cards should be issued for three business daysto allow for delays during busy times of the year.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers willconsider this as part of the proposed by-law.

6. That the examination requirements for the license be set upand administered by a designate of the Toronto City Cycling Committee inassociation with the Association of Professional Urban Cyclists. The TorontoCity Cycling Committee will offer a CANBIKE II course to a select groupof couriers for feedback on the course content as soon as possible. (TheCANBIKE II course is used as the basis of testing in Vancouver and hasbeen offered to Police Bike Squads and teachers, as well as to the generalpublic.) Members of the Metro Licensing Commission who deal with complaintsabout courier riding behaviour must also take the courier on-road and writtentest.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers WILLNOT consider this as part of the proposed by-law.

7. That administrative assistance be provided to the TorontoCity Cycling Committee in association with the Association of ProfessionalUrban Cyclists to conduct the examinations.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers WILLNOT consider this as part of the proposed by-law.

8. That Metro Licensing Commission fund a public education programto inform the public of the requirements of this by-law. The Toronto CityCycling Committee and the Association of Professional Urban Cyclists wouldbe interested in developing such a program.

*Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers WILLNOT consider this as part of the proposed by-law.

9. That helmet and bike maintenance issues not be addressed asmandatory within the by-law. (These issues are more appropriately dealtwith as public education issues within the cycling community as a wholeunder the Highway Traffic Act.)

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers acceptedthis proposal.

10. That a representative from the Toronto City Cycling Committeeand the Association of Professional Urban Cyclists sit on any hearing orreview committee concerning complaints about courier behaviour.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers WILLNOT consider this as part of the proposed by-law because the review processis open to the public.

11. That the whole issue of insurance be deferred for furtherstudy.

12. That all deliveries made to City and Metro government officesmust be made by licensed couriers.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers willconsider forwarding this proposal.

13. That Metro and the City require all government deliveriesunder 8 km be done by bicycle courier or walking courier, when practical.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers WILLNOT consider this as part of the proposed by-law.

14. That the City and Metro develop improved facilities for bicycleparking for couriers at all courier destinations in the downtown core.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers willrecommend this, but not as part of the proposed by-law.

15. That this program be monitored for a one year period andthat Metro Licensing Commission report back on the effects of the programon the courier industry and the effectiveness of the program. The Associationof Professional Urban Cyclists, the Toronto City Cycling Committee andthe Metro Toronto Police Force should be involved in designing and implementingthis review process.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers willconsider this as part of the proposed by-law.

16. That data collection should precede implementation of thelicensing program so that monitoring can occur.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers WILLNOT consider this as part of the proposed by-law, due to the delay.

17. That the police should differentiate between general publicbicyclists and bike couriers when reporting accidents and incidents.

* This is not under the jurisdiction of MetroLicensing.

18. That assistance from the Office for Equal Opportunity berequested in drafting a precise by- law that uses clear language and designprinciples.

* Subcommittee on licensing bike couriers willconsider this as part of the proposed by-law.

19. That representatives from the Toronto City Cycling Committeeand the Association of Professional Urban Cyclists meet with the MetroLicensing Courier Subcommittee before finalizing the recommendations listedabove. At that time, a final position will be sent to City Services Committeeand the Metro Licensing Commission.

See TCCC Final Position Report on LicensingCyclists and Couriers dated June 19, 1992.

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