Article in Time Out Sydney showing off the courier community.
Habitat: The streets of Sydneyâ€™s CBD Dress: Shorts, satchel, two way radio Credo: â€œGet out of the f***ing wayâ€
Any job that requires you be impervious to insults, near misses with pedestrians, broken bones, dislocated joints and face-scraping grazes is no run of the mill crust-earner.
Unsurprisingly, bike couriers donâ€™t brag about their injuries. They take pride in avoiding accidents. â€œPedestrians are by far the greatest hazard to urban cyclists. My biggest fear is being knocked off my bike by a jaywalking pedestrian then going under a bus or truck,â€ says Simon â€˜Shiftyâ€™ McKenzie.
From time to time, angry drivers take aim, but most messengers are circumspect about road rage. â€œTaxi drivers pull u-turns in front of you and donâ€™t indicate. People swing their car doors open without looking. We all have to deal with the same dangers every day. Weâ€™re brothers in arms,â€ says Shifty.
â€œTaxis and buses have issues with us as we do them but it still amazes me how much good a friendly wave or apology can do.â€
Sometimes things boil over. One courier had his revenge: â€œI once stole the keys out of a car that cut me off and threw them down a drain. I can assure you itâ€™s difficult to reach in, turn the key and remove them from an occupied car.â€
After work, couriers congregate near the old Post Office on George Street at Martin Place, standing around with Coopers and a rollie in hand, talking about their bikes. â€œThis isnâ€™t a job you choose,â€ Shifty says. â€œUsually itâ€™s a job you get into because it looks cool or because you may have trouble getting another job. For a job with no qualifications it beats the hell out of flipping burgers or pouring beers.â€
So I called my friend, the reporter form the Times Colin Moynihan, and told him there is still a story to be told about how alleycats have come of age, especially with Monster Track being canceled by its original organizers. He talked with his editors and was able to do the story.
I know people are kind of tired of this but at least we are reporting about postive biking and not speculating about what kind of biker was the mad bomber in Times Square.
Well its been an unpredictable weekend to say the least. Canceled, not canceled. Rain, misting, not-raining, pouring. Videotape, didn’t record, recorded, camera falls to the ground on the road.
Despite the small dramas, its been good times overall and Monster Track 9 still brought people out from all over the world.
Friday night, Get Sum entertainment put on the pre-party and Goldsprints at Third Ward in Bushwick. This place is a nice size gallery space with lots of activity. Mixed in with drenched bike messengers attending the party, fashion models were in studio being photographed and others I meet were working on a documentary contest where they had to complete a film about “second life,” in four days. Oh and thanks for the pizza BTW.
Meanwhile, as the rain never stopped, Team Spider rocked out playing many of their new hits like Fuck Brakes, to a crowd who would be doing just that the next day at Monster Track. This was the bands 10 year anniversary party, bringing their bike punk rock to the masses.
On a big wall in the center of the gallery where about 140 photos from Ed Glazar showing off the diverse bicycle community with bike polo, alleycats and a lot of familiar faces that were in attendance.
Behind that wall was the goldsprints hosted by Hodari, CK and Mike Dee. Here participants battled it out on stationary bikes for prizes like crumpler bags decorated with original fabric art by Ashira.
Here you can pedal in a highly competitive environment and not have to worry about becoming a hood ornament form a speeding SUV.
The final battle of the night came down to our own Pablo from 6 racing team against this kid from Portland who had never been in NYC before.
The first final match was a dead tie so, it was shirts of and time for a vicious tie-breaker to the delight of the biker crowd.
By a close second Caze for Portland (not sure about the name) beat Pablo.
The mood of rain would shift from a light sprinkle to a monsoon downpour on the day of the Monster Track alleycat. This year was the ninth annual race and it was a real coming of age for the underground sport.
A 29 year old died in Chicago in an alleycat series which quickly brought attention to a type of event that has been going on for years without such a tragic incident. Suddenly everyone is questioning the legitimacy and legality of this underground sport normally reserved for bike messengers challenging one another on a weekend.
What can I say, people like to ride fixed gears, they like to ride in traffic and an alleycat race is such a unique exhilaration, always a different course and unlike any type of cycling there is. The fashionableness and the wide spread skill sharing scene on youtube have reached the masses and made cycling cool, so naturally there are lots of people who aren’t messengers who want this same sense of belongingness. Monster Track has become a peremiere event and made NYC a popular destination from rookie alleycat participants. Its also a way to gain bragging rights for your city and for yourself to escape from just being able to merely communte on a fixie to downright racing through a congested traffic environment.
So the original organizers washed their hands of it and left it up to last years organizer alleycat veteran and messenger, Victor. One tactic to reduce the “rookie racers” was hiding the registration and making it word of mouth. The Bangledeshian rains were doing a good job of thinking the pack of potential participants but still they came, drenched with surgical gloves, and plastic bags in their SIDI’s to sign up for the now elusive monster track. In a one room apartment in Williamsburg Brooklyn, the came in, paid ten bucks, got a spoke card and were told where to meet to start the race. Photos from the start by Fritz:
At around 4:50, the rains stopped and the 50 or so fixie riders, who were given the secret handshake to race, took off from under the Williamsburg brige in Manhattan and Monster Track 9 was on.
The first stop was Trackstar where racers got their manifest and drink a beer.
Then they broke off into the city with most people going uptown and few headed down.
I headed to the middle of the Williamsburg Bridge which was the last checkpoint before the end which was designed to keep people off the car path.
Winner (photos by Fritz) for the dudes: Austin For the ladies: Heather
Congratulations to the winner: 1st Mens: Austin 1st Womens: Heather 2nd place Men: Crihs 3rd place Men: Yatika 4th place Men: Willis
The end was at the park at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge, Brooklyn side. We hung out for a while and I talked with a woman who was shooting a documentary about messengers…never heard that concept before. There was also a freelance writer there named Bill who’s business card said he was from Portland. He said he was doing a story on MT for Bicycling magazine. It will be hard to report on this race…because of course it never happened.
Saturday March 8, 1PM Hosted by King Kog Meet at Rockstar Bar- South 5th St. at Kent Ave. Brooklyn Group ride to Meeker/Union under the BQE (Covered area- RAIN!) SPRINTS, Skids, Freestyle, Stands, Footdown! Fun! Awards and Afterparty at Rockstar Bar!!
March 7th, 2008 | Category: General | Comments are closed
Hub and Spokes: Imageability of the Daily Bicycle Commuter in New York City
“In a city that is dominated by the automobile I want to find out how its residents who use other modes of transportation actually view the built environment. While all forms of transit modes could be studied, I find that this small minority (0.5% of residents who commute by bike) would make for an interesting study. The sole purpose is to record the subjective perspective (mental image/imageability) New York City bicycle commuters have of the build environment, good or bad, through a survey. The survey is 23 questions and will take less than 10 minutes to complete. No compensation will be provided for participation in this study.”
The Crew of the weekly Peel Sessions under the BQE in front of the Union Pool bar.
Hirouki Shinozuka, otherwise known as “Shino” and his companion Hal are back in New York City for Monster Track weekend. It was really good seeing both of them at Prolly’s Peel Sessions under the BQE in Williamsburg. Both of these Tokyo messengers were the subject of my short film, “Track Kaiju” which I put together for the Bicycle Film festival 2007. We finally got the chance to give them DVD’s because, we finally finished the DVDs. They seemed happy and that made me relieved because it took me almost a year to finish this project. Shino checking out the DVD.
I hoped they had as much fun in New York as we had making this movie. Mike Dee showed up for a brief appearance to welcome Hal and Shino, who we hadn’t seen in a year.
So we are pre-releasing this Monster Track Tribute DVD, tomorrow at the Gold Sprints Party. They will be $15.00. The Movie includes: My 20 minute short film, a 10 minute race video featuring the mastery of Lucas Brunelle and 20 minutes of interviewing with Mike Dee and Kym Perfetto before the actual race started.
There is commentary by Mike Dee and the film makers and a bunch of bonus material highlighting all the talent that goes into this big event.
Please come through and buy a copy.
Here is a little sample…a quick cut from Monster Track 2007.
Mayor Daley’s plan to curb motorists whose reckless driving endangers bicycle riders — with $150 fines that rise to $500 if there’s a bike crash — cleared a City Council committee today amid demands that the city do the same to cowboy cyclists.
Traffic Committee members said they’re all for throwing the book at drivers who open car doors in the path of cyclists, turn left or right in front of them or pass within three feet of their bikes.
But, they’re equally peeved about bike messengers who knock down pedestrians and about street racers who defy red lights in a mad dash to the finish line.
That’s what happened last month to 29-year-old Matthew Manger-Lynch. He was struck and killed by an SUV at Lincoln and Irving Park while competing in the “Tour da Chicago,” an “alley cat” street race in which cyclists compete with local traffic.
“One of the things that highlighted was the fact that laws should also be obeyed by the bicyclist. Here, we’re highlighting the motor vehicle obeying the law. Are we also going to insist that bicyclists obey the rules of the road,” said Ald. Bernard Stone (50th).
Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) said he has watched cyclists ride the wrong way down one-way streets, cut in and out of traffic and keep on going after causing accidents or knocking people down.
“How many of ‘em are stopping at stop lights? How many of ‘em are stopping at stop signs? How many of ‘em are putting their hands up when it’s time to make a turn? Those are serious issues … If I violate a law and I’m in my car, they take my license. Are we gonna license bicycles,” Cochran said.
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said he’s all for targeting motorists to encourage people to ride their bikes to work to reduce downtown traffic congestion.
But, cyclists need to be “held accountable” as well.
“Some of our … less responsible bicycle messengers seem to have free rein over the streets in the downtown Loop area. For some of our more elderly citizens, we’ve had some close calls and, in fact, some collissions,,” Reilly said.
The city’s Bike 2015 Plan calls for new regulations against the city’s 300 bicycle messengers who make 1.1 million deliveries each year. They would be required to wear helmets and complete a city training session. Companies would be advised when messengers get tickets.
“I may have the pleasure of coming back to this committee again with an ordinance specifically related” to bike messengers, said Ben Gomberg, bike program coordinator for the Department of Transportation.
Gomberg said bicycle licensing has been studied and rejected in other cities as “administratively too difficult.”
But, he promised a summer crackdown to create a “level playing field.”
“If a bicyclist is going through a red light and endangering himself or motorists, we hope to work with the Police Department to ticket those behaviors,” he said.
Daley is an avid cyclist who once scraped the skin off his knee cap during a marathon bike ride in Michigan.
His ordinance establishes a $150 fine against motorists who endanger cyclists and $500 if the offense results in a bike crash. The same penalties would apply to double-parking in a marked lane that’s supposed to be shared between bikes and vehicles and to driving, standing and parking in a bicycle-only lane. —————————–