Welcome to Santa Cruz County’s Bicycle Courier Blog

I thought it would be great to have a place where Bike Couriers and Bike Riders could meet and talk, share stories, trade advice, and build an online community. I look forward to reading and writing our Courier stories, news, and comments.

Rick Graves

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Don't call us alternative transportation

Don't call us alternative transportation.

In every major city across the planet professional bicycle couriers are the most trusted and relied upon cog of the mainstream transportation network.

Any good office manager knows that the national delivery companies are fine for overnight and freight delivery, but if you need a sensitive item delivered right now, without question or delay, the only way to go is by pro bike messenger.

Whether it's bone-marrow or legal documents, we are historically the most trusted delivery system, and the fates of whole lives, corporations and careers have depended upon that trust.

So why, when transplanted to smaller west-coast towns, are bike messengers are relegated to the title of 'alternative' transportation; a moniker that carries with it a connotation of separateness or exclusivity that restricts our broader appeal to those who don't share 'alternative' political viewpoints.

If you can provide superior goods and services at a comparable price, using alternative transportation methods, you become the preferred choice. But you have to get in the door first. Presenting yourself as 'alternative' from the get-go sets up a division between you and the rest of the world, (the correct way vs. the old way), that may sabotage opportunities to bridge the gap.

For example, when the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District came to me for a quote for inter-office motorized courier services, I offered them both motorized and bicycle messenger services. I was able to show them by comparison that the job could be done quicker and more effectively, at a less expensive rate, by bike. They quickly signed on, with the caveat that in an emergency, we would back up our bicycle messengers with our car. We have never had to deliver one piece of mail by car, but I doubt the SCMTD would have taken a second look at us if we didn't have that option. The final result is that all their inter-office mail is now delivered by professional bicycle messengers instead of by their former delivery method of armored trucks.

Most large law firms that find us on the internet don't know or care about our transportation methods. They want immediate results and are willing to pay for it, the pro bike courier just happens to be the most effective method.

In my view an environmental activist with his or her eye on the big picture would want to adapt their message, products, and services to appeal to the broader market. After all, we are asking folks to adapt their lifestyles and attitudes radically, is it so wrong to help provide the middle ground that most of the public can feel safe about crossing.

Or did we move to Santa Cruz to exclude the rest of the world, and set ourselves apart as special and different. Inviting the “others” to either oppose us or sit on the fence.

There is an alternative approach: By providing a wide variety of professional services to a broad spectrum of the market, Clutch Couriers represents the future of the messenger industry, and our recipe for success is the gradient for change that will move 'green' courier services into the mainstream without all the political drama.

When the rubber hits the road your true friends become apparent...RG


Anonymous said...

Cher Bro! Nice philosophical diatribe and I concur -- anything we can do to reduce fossil fuel usage must be a good thing and hopefully the collective 'we' will be waking up, especially with such in-your-face examples of how the status quo aint workin as our most current nemesis -- BP's black death Gulf disaster. Love your bike, love Mother Nature! CG

Yokota Fritz said...

Hey Rich, fantastic article in the SC Sentinel this weekend!