What is a Bike Messenger?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2019
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A bike messenger is a courier who carries goods via bicycle, usually within the urban core of a large city. Usually a central courier service maintains a fleet of available bike messengers to carry sensitive original documents, objects, and various media rapidly to and from various locations. The fast pace of the job combined with the required street skills makes being a bike messenger a highly challenging career, but one which has also been heavily romanticized by many people.

At a minimum, a bike messenger has a bike and a large messenger bag designed for rapid access and large holding capacity. The messenger communicates with his or her courier service via two-way radios, pagers, or cell phones, and spends much of the day on the run picking up packages. Typically the courier service pays the bike messenger by the item, although some offer hourly compensation. In either case, pay is typically low and does not come with benefits such as medical care.

Being a bike messenger is highly dangerous, because it involves moving at high speeds through heavily congested areas. Collisions with cars are not uncommon, and it is possible to become seriously injured or killed. Generally, when a bike messenger is injured, other messengers in the area will contribute to a recovery fund, as the community tends to be highly supportive as well as insular. In some areas, unions of bike messengers have set up regional funds to assist their comrades, much like unions.


Most cities of the world have bike messengers, despite the proliferation of digital media. In some cases, an object must be delivered in hard copy to another location, and a bike messenger is faster than a car courier service. Gifts, checks, equipment, discs or hard drives, and original documents may be carried by bike messenger, and some companies choose to use bike messengers rather than other modes of delivery to increase the importance of the delivery.

Some outsiders admire the bike messaging culture, which tends to be very closed. Many bike messengers are also members of the alternative community in general, and may participate in radical organizations or live in collectives. While not always true, some bike messengers prefer to socialize exclusively with other members of their community because of the greater area of common ground. Being a bike messenger requires excellent biking skills, speed, an extensive knowledge of the area covered by the courier service, and nerves of steel. Individuals who are interested in a bike messaging job should contact a local courier service for more information.


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Post 3

@stoneMason-- Bike messengers deliver a wide range of things, from documents to art work to various gifts. I think documents, hard discs and CDs are some of the most common delivered items.

Yes, people can email one another. But sometimes email is not seen as trustworthy. Sometimes people want documents delivered in person. Other times, the documents are too large to be attached in an email and have to be delivered in person. Using a bike messenger is a great way to get documents where it needs to be quickly and safely.

Post 2

What types of thinks do bike messengers deliver? At this time of emails, I can't believe people still need bike messengers.

Post 1

Bike messengers need to be considered employees and they need to receive benefits.

Their job is dangerous and requires a lot of effort even though the pay rates are not very high. Moreover, if something happens, most don't even have insurance. And I think this is the case in other countries too, such as countries in Europe.

Bike messengers have an important job in my opinion. They help people get their packages quickly in metropolitan areas. Packages would take much longer to reach them if they were delivered the normal way. We should give them their rights.

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