Courier industry in decline, especially in DC

DC couriers are getting hit especially hard due to the number of legal documents being electronically filled now.

Here is a recent article in the Washington Post pointed out to me by DC courier and race organizer John Dinn of

Picture 8

In Washington, a Two-Tire Industry Goes Flat
Athletic rebels swathed in Lycra, zipping in and out of traffic to beat the delivery deadline, watch their livelihood evaporate.

By Steve Hendrix
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Getting a meticulously prepared legal brief to a courthouse or federal agency on time used to require a bit of comic-book valor. Just before deadline, exhausted lawyers handed off the document to a character in the tight Lycra of a superhero, the shoulder bag of a Pony Express rider and the bulging thighs of an athlete. One of Washington’s legions of bicycle messengers would then dart through perilous traffic and any weather to deliver the goods in the nick of time.

Now, as the last of the area’s courts and agencies begin to allow electronic filings instead of demanding piles of paper, deadline dramas in many law offices are being reduced to little more than hitting the “send” button.

The courier business — for decades a quirky by-product of Washington’s No. 1 industry, paper-pushing — finds itself in rapid decline. Tighter security restrictions imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have closed off many government office corridors to couriers, and the recession has dampened activity at law firms and lobbying shops, rendering the life of a time-sensitive document in the District a lot more boring.

The number of full-time couriers in Washington has fallen from a high of about 400 in the 1990s to about 150, said Andy Zalan, a longtime bike messenger and head of the D.C. Bicycle Couriers Association.

Read the rest of the article here.

2 comments to Courier industry in decline, especially in DC