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Bike Portland on messengers
4.03.09 by Buffalo Bill

As I grasped to understand how such a flawed business model could sustain itself in Portland, messengers explained that business owners typically hire couriers as independent contractors. Many messenger business owners cannot or will not face the high cost of workman’s compensation coverage for bike messenger employees, so they often avoid the expense by signing on contractors.

From a three part article in Bike Portland, which features interviews with Portland messengers, including my old mate Joel Metz, a recipient of the Marcus Cook Award. It’s a decent piece about the US messenger scene, and its iniquities. I probably should have linked it up before, but it has been up at messmedia for a while.

Some nice statements from the Magpie Collective guys:

“By getting rid of commission-based pay, we see less haphazard riding,” he said, “At Magpie, we ride slowly. Also, we don’t ride (brakeless) fixed-gear bikes,” Branham added.

Although this one is a little optimistic:

“If clients knew that a service rate increase was for the sake of establishing health insurance for workers, I think that businesses would accept it.”

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