Got a question about being or becoming a cycle courier / bicycle messenger? Check for answers here.
  • the one about knees?
  • the one about bloody spunk? could be useful.
  • the one about Boris?
  • He's becoming a cycle-courier now is he?
  • yep, he loves it. To be seen regularly on rosemary avenue. I tried to get a job off of him. He didnt seem keen.
  • I have a question, can you guys offer any tips for learning your way around london and also, really how well you need to know london... I know where all the boroughs are, and most places of interest, I know the maps, and the tube map (hey, it helps!) well. But i find looking at an A - Z daunting and never know where to begin. I may pick up on some roads, but without the bigger picture revealing itself easily, I loose the context within that road, and thus often forget where it was in the first place.

    What I imagine to be really handy is a map with levels of detail. I tried studying at various zoom levels with googlemaps but even zoomed out it likes to bewilder with road numbers and an array of white streets that just add clutter for your eyes to easily absorb. and with every label being the same size doesn't help either.

    Thanks people
  • The way to learn it is to do it. If you wanted to get some practice in you could go for a cycle round the major roads through central London between NW1, SW1, w2 and e1, e.g Bishopsgate, High Holborn, Oxford st, Tottenham ct rd, Euston rd, etc. See how they all connect up, the rest will follow. Don't think just looking at google maps will help all that much. Best of luck.
  • Arif you'll either get the hang of it or you won't; some people find their way around quickly, others take longer, some find it all too much and quit after a week. ifbm is right; the only way to learn is to do it. If you know the main routes first that will help a bit but accept that at first you'll be looking in your A-Z all the time; the first few weeks of couriering are the most frustrating. Hopefully you'll be at a company that takes into account that you're new. BUT, write things down; if you've been somewhere once you shouldn't need reminding where it is. Don't tell any company you want to work for that you know the tube map - it sounds all wrong and if you end up on the tube then something has gone wrong. Basically, lie a bit but not too much. Good luck.
  • I spent two full weeks cycling around London before applying for my courier job. It helped so much. It's all about fitting together the massive great puzzle. Learn which roads link to others, set yourself little A-B missions. Key areas would be, for example, Picadilly Circus and all the roads that lead to and away from it. Focus on W1, the city (EC1,2,3,4 and it can't hurt to learn E1), SE1 and all the roads that link up the bridges (Tooley st, Southwark rd, York, Stamford etc...) and learn which order the bridges are in... they're your key to getting places quick. See how far you can cycle in Soho without having to go down a one-way street. Wigmore street is as crucial to your knowledge as Oxford Street. Make notes on which roads are going one way... you'll fuck yourself if you plan a massive W1 route and you didn't know that Tottenham Court Road is a one-way deal. Cycle it alot.

    Also, I found following couriers helped a bit, seeing which routes they take, how they deal with traffic etc.
  • Also start with a smaller company, as this will buy u time to find places and get used to the procedures of the job without having the pressure of having loads of work onboard.
  • All excellent tips. thanks for that.
  • Get a big map of London, and stick on the wall. Then spend a long time looking at it. This will help getting to know the shape of the city.
  • Has anyone worked for pegasus, chaingang or prestige? Good to work for?
  • Worked for Pegasus in 02, imo they were shite.
  • what courier firms would you guys recommend?
  • At the moment the short answer might be 'any company that will hire you'. Things are very very slow and likely to get worse. But if you are determined and persist you will find a place. If you have not done it before it will be even harder so you might have to start somewhere crappy and then change when you've learned the basics. Different riders have different opinions about certain companies (City sprint for example) so ask around.
    good luck.
  • Make sure your dead minimum weekly wage (5 days) is at least 200. Any less and it's just not worth it. I met a guy the other day who worked for a smaller company and had just been paid 125 (!!!!!) for a whole week.
  • I get paid £125 a week too, I was willing to try and stick with it when I started because I thought I was just being slow and I was a newbie so was just learning the job. I'm gonna have to start looking around 'cos it's getting a bit shit at the moment, I know everywhere's slow but £20-25 a day ain't really doing it.
  • "Because payment is made at piece rates, and cycle couriers often fail to file accurate tax returns, it is hard to find good evidence of messenger income. A study published in 2006 stated that the average daily wage of London bicycle messengers was £65 a day, and that of bicycle messenger in Cardiff was £45. The UK legal minimum wage is £5.52/hour. Based on a nine hour day, this gives a legal minimum daily rate of around £49, before deductions."

    From Wikipedia.

    Anything less than £250, and you are making less than minimum wage, and you still have to pay for all your equipment.
  • from

    For 5 days 9-6, even a total amateur should pick up £200 before deductions. If your first cheque amounts to less than £40 a day then you should either quit the job altogether or go looking for another company.

    ITS A JOB. Any company that thinks £3 ph is okay.. honestly, fuck sticking with it. Thats less than half the minimum wage.This whole mythical self employed contractor system is bullshit, and letting companies get away with paying people 125/week because theyre "not" employees is fucked. You are being exploited. Somebody is making money by fucking you. Set fire to their office and quit now.

    Fromemory and the ex-LBMA are right. £200 is okay to start with. Starting somewhere crappy is part of it too (it makes you realise how good the better companies are), but theyre not mutually exclusive. You shouldnt have to starve to learn how to do this job..
  • I started messenging in 1986. After a couple months, I was on a £200/week guarantee. This was 22 years ago.
  • >the average daily wage of London bicycle messengers was £65 a day

    Maths question#1

    How many £3ph starving messengers is ryan averaging out?
  • Errr. I am crap at maths.
  • :) I think my point was just more..averages and their general pointlessness. or something.

    So £49/day after deductions is the current legal minimum for a 9 hour day? Thats really interesting. I know there are plently of people who dont make that. (as Ive never actually been on time for a 9 hour day, I'm obviously excepted..). Is that every day, or could companies argue that averaging that over a week/month/lifetime is okay? Its just such a complicated area, and the only way I can see to end that starts with the riders. Who'd have to become employees and give up their outlaw mentality, the only thing that keeps most of them doing it in the first place..I mean, seriously. I wouldnt hire me..
  • I guess it would average over whatever your pay period would be (weekly in this case). But you guys are self-employed subs, so the legislation doesn't apply to you!
  • The problem for me is that I don't often work a 5 day week 'cos I go to uni on Thursdays so guarantees are not really much use to me.
  • Festerban. Forget about guarantees. After working for 3 different companies that were giving guarantees it become clear to me that very rarely they will let you earn beyond that guarantee (whatever the amount is £200, £250,£300).And way too often i found myself hanging out bored for 3 days doing 10 (or less) jobs a day,just to get slapped all over the shop for 10 hours on the following two days. Or having 3 good busy days, followed by 2 crap days just so i won't earn too much.
    From what i gather theres only one or two firms in town offering decent-ish G. of £350 plus a week. My personal opinion is that the G. is just another way of fucking us over.
    Something else people get so happy about are the minimum rates. You hear so often 'I get paid 3 quid minimum' etc. So fucking what? No matter how good the minimum rates are, if you do 10 dockets a day. Or getting stitched doing ec2 to kensington via vauxhall for less than a tenner.
    Its the volume of work and the quality of despatching that counts.
    At the end of the day your are still self employed and regardless of massive downsides of that status, theres an upside too.You can leave whenever you want. You dont need to slave your self for a sweat shop wage, making some fat ex cab driver rich.
    Theres plenty of courier companies to choose from. I worked for 7 different ones (5 in london) and at almost every place i been told that courier companies are the same, I cant do any better that here etc etc. And they were all wrong. You can do better. And working part time too. And if you can't do better, you can always comeback to £125 a week. Although i wouldn't do that.
  • Good post by jaded, but I am not so sure that the upsides of being 'self-employed' out-weigh the down-sides.

    At the company I work for (as a controller), we have just got a Health and Safety policy. We know have to record all injuries in our work-place. But guess what? We are not obliged to record injuries to our riders. It so happens that we (the bike department, anyway) record injuries to our riders (at least the ones that hear about). I know for a fact that Citysprint do not (at least according to Paris), but I think that they may be in the process of changing that.

    It is for this reason that TfL's survey of couriers recorded a ridiculously low rate of injury to riders.
  • At the moment a guarantee would double what I currently earn, I don't really mind not earning over it, I just want to earn a decent wage. Also my co.s rates are SHIT! w9- ec3....£3.10 :angry:
  • Bill. Re-read my post. The downsides of being a self employed courier are fucking massive. Upsides are few and far between. Freedom of working when you want suppose to be one of the very few upsides,if not the ONLY ONE. Reality is-it isnt an upside at all...Isnt A. L. the only company where couriers can practicaly turn up when they want and leave when they want? Every single firm making their couriers sign the self-employment paper and then renouncing their right of a self employed contractor to working when they are pleased to work is violating their rights. And theres fuck all we couriers can do about it. I'm hoping that inland revenue will crack down on those practices, but I'm aware this is my wishful thinking.
    Festerban. Dont know who you are working for but you shouldnt be doing it to yourself. LEAVE. ASAP. Tomorrow morning. You got some experience now, go and look for a new company. Its raining, its monday morning , christmas is 6 weeks away. The best time to look for work. Good Night and Good Luck.
  • 'I'm hoping that inland revenue will crack down on those practices, but I'm aware this is my wishful thinking.'

    It's unlikely at the mo, see
  • Festerban, you're not 'Benny' (?) who I met downstairs at 27 Leadenhall are you?
  • Nope not moi, sorry mate
  • Hello all!

    I am writing to see if there is any possibility to have a chat with a bike courier about the nature of their work. This will aid one of my modules in Anthropology (the anthropology of london at Goldsmiths college).

    If anyone is willing to help me with this it will be very much appreciated :)
  • Hi Billie,

    Hope you found material for your study.

    My personal opinion is that the job is changing, to say the least. Sometimes I wonder how much longer it will exist and whether the urban 'courier' is a breed on the verge of extinction.

    Good luck and feel free to get in touch if it's of any help to you.
  • hey

    i have decided to move to london (currently living in dublin) and try my hand at being a bicycle messenger and use the job as means for travelling europe and working. not really sure where to start though. any advice on the subject would be great. thanks
  • Hey im new to this site and hopefully am going to be a courier for Churchill express by the end of the week.

    My question is this company any good? Because from what I gather from reading all over this site is that no one works for them or just does not talk about them.

    However a jobs a job. Just want to get some real info on them.

    that may help you hahaha
  • Does anyone have an address for Air Call Solutions? I cannot seem to find them anywhere on the net. Have they changed their name? I'm in the process of cold-calling in person and boy is it sul destroying for a total newbie :/ I'm having real difficulty trying to persuade anyone to take me on as I my lack of experience is a big no-no. That catch twenty-two of needing experience to get on the circuit but needing to have been on the circuit to get experience. Blah.
  • @drrtyoldpunk

    Me too. I'm trying to get into this game and I've read all the posts. If anyone knows of a company that tends to employ newbie muppets like me and drrty then please let me know. I'm pretty desperate to get on a circuit.

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