[messengers] Bike Courier Service a Boon for Santa Cruz

Date: 9 Apr 2010 12:48:58 +0200
From: Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>

Bike Courier Service a Boon for Santa Cruz


By Asa Hess-Matsumoto


City on a Hill Press, April 8, 2010


“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays
these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”


This oft-quoted and relatively well-known saying has come to
be emblematic of the United States Postal Service (USPS), yet even they can be
slowed by the economic recession.


With economic hardships forcing everyone to tighten their
belts, Santa Cruz
citizens have turned to more cost-efficient means of delivering their mail. One
such method is the employment of the bicycle courier.


Since the the turn of the 20th century, bicycle couriers
have earned their reputation as being fast and reliable in larger cities such
as San Francisco — able to beat lights and fly past traffic, the bicycle
courier is considered by some to be the perfect solution for local rush


Courier companies also possess a local charm, with their
staff often being composed of people with intimate knowledge of the areas in
which they work.


And by riding their bikes, courier companies lack the
harmful greenhouse gas emissions that are inherent with any other motorized


Local bicycle courier companies, such as Clutch Couriers and
Pedalers Express, recognize the strengths of operating in Santa Cruz.


“We’re a lot faster than motorized deliveries,” said Erin
Cott, co-owner and worker of Pedalers Express. “We don’t use cars, so we don’t
need oil or gasoline — I think people like that environmental factor about us.”


While the demand may perhaps be higher in larger cities, Santa Cruz’s couriers
still have an important niche in the community.


Local courier companies will typically bike several hundred
miles a week. Able to deliver virtually anywhere across the county — from San Lorenzo Valley
to Watsonville
— in a matter of hours bicycle couriers are able to get what you need, where
you need it fast.


“Any Clutch Couriers rider can deliver documents up to 100
pounds in Santa Cruz
 County, including our
daily run to Watsonville Superior Court,” said Rick Graves, owner and operator
of Clutch Couriers, in an e-mail to City on a Hill Press. “We provide the same
day and rush service that USPS, UPS, FedEx, and others don’t.”


Many local businesses, law offices, and other groups are
already making use of these bike messengers. Clutch Couriers, boasting an
impressive and diverse clientele list, is well-received by those who call upon


Adam Bergeron, co-owner of The Crepe Place and frequent
client of Clutch Couriers, had nothing but praise for their services,
describing them as “just fantastic.”


“They always do what they set about to do — you can always
count on them,” Bergeron said.


However, courier companies are not exempt from the economic
recession. Recently, Pedalers Express lost quite a few of their biggest
clients. Clutch Couriers also saw a significant drop in its advertising and
entertainment sector. With the continual development of technology coupled
alongside the economic downturn, Cott finds that the contemporary bicycle
courier riding harder and faster may not be enough.


“We hold meetings every week to address just that,” Cott
said. “We recently took on an apprentice who can help us with marketing, so
hopefully that will help.”


However while some old doors may close, courier companies
are constantly alert for new business opportunities.


During the harder-hitting time in the recession, for
example, Clutch Couriers experienced a notable uptick in its handling of legal
documents. The U.S. Postal Service’s motion to cancel its Saturday deliveries
may serve as another such opportunity.


“Most people that use the USPS only want to spend 44 cents
per delivery,” Graves said. “The trick is to
be there for them, with what they need, when they need it. Then business booms


Although the work is hard, Graves
and other bicycle couriers would agree it’s worth it.


As Graves put it,“Four out
of five of our crew members count this as their only job, and, although we
aren’t getting rich, we are making a decent living in one of the most beautiful
places on earth doing what we love.”




Mess media Bryant Watch