[messengers] Extreme Logistics: When it Pays to be Fit

Date: 3 Feb 2011 12:36:46 +0100
From: Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>


Extreme Logistics: When it Pays to be Fit 

 

by Cynthia Y. McCann 

 

World Trade 100, February 2, 2011

 

The Low-Down: 

 

This isn’t a logistics desk job. It’s racing taxis, traffic,
exhaust, loud noise, weather, enduring obscenities, and riding 30 to 40 miles a
day to get packages delivered. 

 

For bicycle messengers, it’s athleticism, know-how, and grit
that count. So it’s no surprise that during a recent orientation class for new
bikers, Andrew Young, general manager of Breakaway Courier Systems in New York City, told the
class that only half of them would make it.

 

The company has a fleet of 130 messengers, with 85-100
active messengers riding the city streets on any given day.

 

Today’s bikes really don’t differ that much from the first
pedal-driven “velocipede” that was invented in the 1860s. Western
 Union was one of the first large employers of bicycle messengers
in the late 1800s, and Young says there’s still a market for this type of
transportation. 

 

“We have a very quick turnaround time,” he explains. “We can
deliver small packages anywhere around Manhattan
in 90 minutes.” And, when someone wants a “triple rush,” Breakaway can get the
package across town in 20 to 30 minutes.

 

“When the density is close and there are a lot of businesses
in close proximity, like in Manhattan,
it makes more sense to use a bike, because it’s the quickest way around town.
If you’re going from Point A to Point B, ninety percent of the time the bicycle
will get there first,” Young says.

 

Breakaway delivers 1,100 to 1,200 packages, on average,
every day, even in the worst weather conditions, which Young describes as
“temperatures between 35-40 degrees with long, lasting rain.” That’s when “it’s
almost impossible to keep yourself—and your toes—really warm during a long day
of work.” 

 

 
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