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Emergency fund meeting Tuesday 15th Foundry
10.04.08 by Buffalo Bill

After the traumatic day last month when two London cycle couriers were injured in separate collisions with HGV/LGV/lorries in the same morning, the London bicycle messenger community set its collective mind to raising money. Most couriers are classified as self-employed sub-contractors for tax purposes, and as such, are not entitled to any kind of sick pay (or holiday pay, for that matter).

So when a messenger is injured, they will not earn. Given the perils of bicycle delivery, documented in a Harvard Medical School report published in 2002 which estimated that Boston couriers suffer occupational injuries at 14 times the US average, and 4 times the rate of the next highest group, meat packers, it is likely that most couriers will be forced to take time off due to injury suffered at work at some time during their courier life.

If you are up to date with your National Insurance contributions, then you will probably be entitled to claim Incapacity Benefit. But the claim will take time to process, and most claimants will only be entitled to around £65 per week. Of course, for one reason or another, some messengers will not be entitled to claim IB. For all of these reasons, I was delighted to see the London messenger community act, and act decisively, to help their friends and colleagues. The word was spread, the hat was passed, and fund-raising events were organised.

Chewy declined his share of the money, but as was reported here, Ephraim received a not inconsiderable sum last week. Of course, given that Effri hasn’t worked for over a month now, and is unlikely to be able to do any cycling for a while, the money will not cover his lost earnings. But it certainly will make a difference.

And the effect of knowing that your fellow messengers (and others) actually give enough of a shit to do something to help should not be under-estimated. Many years ago, I was unable to work for several months because a driver broke my ankle. The company that I worked for, On Yer Bike, did not send me so much as a ‘Get Well Soon, Loser!’ card. Only two riders kept in touch, Andy Capp and Alison Henry. It was only because my then girlfriend (thanks Emma!), and Andy, were able to lend me money that I was able to feed myself. It was a miserable and depressing experience, and one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

So I am delighted that the people behind the fund-raising efforts have decided that they are willing to shoulder the responsibility of setting up an Emergency Fund for London messengers. If you want to participate in the organisation of the Fund, then you can come along to the meeting, which is being held at the Foundry, 6.30pm 15th April. Decisions that might be taken: who will be entitled to pay-outs, and in what circumstances; who will look after the money; what the fund will be called; and most importantly, what will be done to raise more money.

My congratulations to the organisers. Moving Target will support the fund as much as is possible.

To find out more, and participate in discussion of the fund ahead of the meeting see the MT forum.

  1. Thanks Bill can I point out that it’s 15th april and not 16th!!!!?

    — overdrive    10 April 2008, 11:15    #
  2. Sh1t, I’ll change that right now! Sorry.

    — Bill    10 April 2008, 11:49    #
  3. Sorry, sorry. Muppet!

    — Bill    10 April 2008, 11:50    #
  4. Yep,muppet.

    — overdrive    10 April 2008, 12:08    #
  5. Hey, long time reader but never wrote…
    Writing for the Guardian now Bill?

    — claire    10 April 2008, 12:45    #
  6. It’s a one-off, and they didn’t pay me. If I do another one and they pay me, I guess I will officially have sold out. :-)

    — Bill    10 April 2008, 12:56    #
  7. maybe you could try working for that other, completely different, newspaper The Observer?
    and why didn’t they pay you? they should be running a courier company with that approach.

    — will    10 April 2008, 17:20    #
  8. They claim not to have a budget for it. Whatever.

    Anyone interested in commenting on the subject of the article?

    — Bill    10 April 2008, 20:50    #
  9. Don’t demonise cycle lanes.

    They work on the continent where they have far more advanced and progressive ideas about pro-cycling in cities and between them. Yes, spend more money on training but that’s not a ‘solution’ is it, it’s an aid to raising awareness?

    Example. That cycle lane over Southwark Bridge is good isn’t it? Our own lane and it’s enclosed by a concrete barrier. Perfect. Conspiracy theories about the promotion of cycle lanes pushing cyclists of the road aside, this is step forward in my view, albeit an expensive one. Cheaper than a trident missile though.

    — Barry Krishna    11 April 2008, 09:13    #
  10. Sorry, that wasn’t the topic of this article. This article is about an emergency fund for bicycle messengers. There’s a discussion on the forum about bicycle lanes. With refs to research from the continent showing… oh read it for yourself.

    — Bill    11 April 2008, 09:28    #
  11. I think that setting up an emergency fund is an excellent idea, though could this not be connected to the LBMA? has the LBMA ceased to exist as a company now? If the LBMA still exists as a company then the would it be possible for the emergency fund to be conected to this? If london messengers ever want to host a championship in the future surely having the LBMA active would make it easier. A lot of work went into the LBMA and it would be a shame to see it wasted. But if people are not willing to help with the running of the LBMA the is there really much chance that an emergency fund would be successful?

    I am interested in helping in anyway possible to set up an emergency fund, and hopefully if its not too late to also get involved in the LBMA. (What is the status with it at the moment??)

    see you on tuesday.

    — redrum    11 April 2008, 11:45    #
  12. The LBMA is no more and in the end was doing nothing anyway.See you Tuesday.

    — overdrive    11 April 2008, 11:48    #
  13. ok, i just spoke to steff and got the low down. catch ya on tues

    — redrum    11 April 2008, 12:33    #
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