A day to appreciate bicycle messengers

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Sharky-8

After a long and illustrious career, Eric “Sharky” Young hung up his messenger bag this year. He was a credit to his profession (and, given the speed and skill with which he operated his bicycle, he was not easy to photograph.)
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you see a bike messenger in your office or in your lane today, give ’em a nod or say “thanks.”

You should probably always do this, given the importance and symbolism of their chosen profession; but today is special because it’s 10-9 Day, a.k.a. Messenger Appreciation Day.

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Mayor says today is Bicycle Messenger Appreciation Day

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“Whereas, bicycle messengers provide a value-added service that businesses seek out as a means to reduce costs and improve efficiency, crucial to the movement of important information…”
— Mayor Sam Adams, in a proclamation of 10-9 Day

Professional bike messengers around the country will recognize today as 10-9 Day, a.k.a. Messenger Appreciation Day.

October 9th has been a day of thanks for bike messengers since 1997, when Toronto joined San Francisco with a joint proclamation. Since then, 10/9 has been officially recognized in Calgary, Chicago, Edmonton, Montreal, Houston, Vancouver and Washington DC.

Now you can add Portland to that list.

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Don’t kill the messengers: Inside the health of the industry (Part Three)

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More on this series:
Read Part One
Read Part Two
Author Bio

[Note from Publisher: Welcome to the final installment of our three-part series on bike messengers in Portland. This series is written by BikePortland contributing writer Erin Greeson (bio).

In Part One, Greeson laid out the tough working conditions faced by Portland’s messengers. Part Two focused on health care and the negative stereotypes often associated with bicycle delivery professionals. Today, Greeson concludes her story by taking a look at attempts to organize and improve the industry.

Thanks to everyone for the vigorous discussion on this series thus far, and a special thanks to Erin Greeson for her work on this story.]


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Don’t kill the messengers: Inside the health of the industry

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Erin Greeson

[Publisher’s note: This is the first in a three-part story on Portland’s bike messengers by new contributor Erin Greeson.

When her friend Zak Kovalcik crashed and broke his collarbone last fall, Greeson came face-to-face with the tough reality faced by Portland’s bike delivery professionals. In this in-depth, three-part series, Greeson shares how the deck is stacked against messengers and how they are trying to survive in a challenging profession.]


“The paradigm of the typical messenger service business model is problematic. It’s a pyramid-shaped scheme where the workers are on the bottom.”
–Ira Ryan, former messenger

As Portland’s reputation as a green business boomtown gains momentum, bike-centric ventures emerge as quickly and viably as organic brewpubs and cafes. While a new era of entrepreneurs seeks to capitalize on this evolving economy, one of the oldest bike-based businesses, bicycle messenger services, faces challenges that impact workers and business owners alike.

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