Portland presence in NYC messenger ‘zine

MESS is a new magazine from New York City that covers the messenger scene. The zine is written by veteran bike couriers with over 30 years experience riding in the streets of New York, DC, Houston, Minneapolis, and of course Portland.

In clicking around their website I noticed a familiar name on the byline of several articles, BillDozer. I don’t know this guy personally, but I know he used to be very active in the Portland messenger scene. He also happens to be a talented writer. I especially like this opinion piece he wrote titled, In Praise of Riding Like a Jerk.

In this essay he addresses the “irreconcilable” divide between two types of city riders; commuters and messengers:

“There is a division among city cyclists that cuts me to the heart, and I feel the difference is nearly irreconcilable. I’m talking, of course, about commuters versus messengers. This difference is most analogous to the political differences between liberals and radicals.”

It’s an interesting read.

I also noticed a just-published “Portland Scene Report” by Scott Owens. It’s an entertaining primer and introduces the newbie to many of the cool and colorful characters that make the Portland messenger scene, “the best anywhere”.

I hope these guys keep publishing great content and hopefully MESS magazine sticks around for a long time.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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17 years ago

Ref: Portland Scene Report

Was Scott Owens talking about the condition of the Alpenrose Velodrome recently? I’m a FNG to track bikes so I went there for the first time last week. It looked to be in great shape. What gives?

17 years ago

Great article. Thanks for the link. I’ve wondered how long common cause can exist between recreational riders, messengers, commuters, racers, etc. It’s interesting to watch any group “movement” made up of separate disparate parts splinter as one group or another’s needs are met. The other thing I find fascinating is how the radical right and left in America both embrace key elements of Objectivism – speaking of common cause between disparate groups…

Jasun Wurster
Jasun Wurster
17 years ago

That was a great article!

There are many valid points in that article. The biggest issue I have with the radical approach is that the people who ride and live as such are very selective and individualistic of the laws that they choose to live outside of. While relying on a majority of other laws, which are part of the same system, to protect them.

In the case of messengers, which I have nothing against. Is their justification valid when applied to a taxi driver who is speeding to appease their ‘fare’. More so is this mindset the same as a manufacture who feels that they are above environmental laws in which regulate their business ventures?

In regards to cyclist, there are what I perceive some not so obvious ramifications from choosing to operate outside of the current system here in Portland. One is alienating public support to change the existing laws to be more inclusive to bicycles. When the laws were authored and passed many years ago, cycling in our society was not as politically prevalent as it is today. Today we live in a society that is much more understanding and accommodating of minorities, which cyclist in respect to drivers are, than 50 years ago.

Then there is the more serious issue of operation outside of the current system. For when a rider chooses to place themselves above or outside the law … they then loose the protection of it, which is at the core of the liberal government. In essence it is giving up some freedoms ( having to stop at a red light ) to the State in exchange for protection from other people taking away much larger freedoms and rights ( life, liberty and pursuit happiness ).

Getting hit by an automobile driver breaking the law is one thing when riding a bicycle legally. Getting hit by an automobile driver obeying that law when a cyclist is running a red light is justification for an insurance company and the legal system to disregard one, since the radical cyclist choose not to be part of the system.

17 years ago

Thanks for the plug, and for the sensible dialogue going on here. I’m actually in town for a couple weeks for an unnamed bicycle race, and some other events, so I’m game for some more discussion…

On the topic of commuters and messengers, let me say that I am not opposed to anyone’s style of riding. Indeed I am stoked that so many people do ride. But I am no cycling activist. I find that the law being changed this way or that in regards to cyclists’ relationship to drivers has a negligible effect on the way I live my daily life. Additionally, I feel that there are more pressing problems for bike messengers. For example, the lack of insurance, workers comp, and benefits for most bike messengers. Bicycle lanes are worthless when you’re out of work for three months, with no one to pay your bills. And it’s not that I’m opposed to commuters riding how they do, and pressing the city to enact safer regulations regarding urban cycling. Rather, imagine I’m like the ever-present orthodox jews in my Brooklyn neighborhood: I’m just not concerned. I’m just doing my thing, and letting you do yours.

To say that this view is indivualistic is totally accurate. In fact I am proud of it. When I am on my bike at work, everything around me is simply an obstacle. Automobiles, other cyclists, pedestrians, and inanimate objects are all the same, and I’m just trying to dodge them. As a 30-year old anarchist (take THAT, Winston Churchill!), I find that my belief in individualism can go hand-in hand with my belief in community, rather than conflict with it. We don’t have to agree in order to coexist. In fact, it’s better that we don’t. A diversity of ideas is what makes the urban environment so great.

Thanks again for the shout-out and the discussion. We at MESS welcome submissions from readers. Just check out the “work for us” link on the website. See you on the street.