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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Who needs bike messengers?

One of my friends was having a conversation with some twenty-something techno wonks and the subject came up that he knew some bike messengers around town. The attitude around the table was universally contemptuous, “that's stupid,” offered one, “in this day and age aren't all messages digital? Who needs bike messengers?”
While I love the internet for the connectivity it offers my business, these whiz-kids are forgetting some of it's limitations. For starters communication on the web is very one way. It's easy to ignore a message you don't want to get, and for that reason alone there will always be a need for bike messengers to physically inform people that they are being sued or to make sure a legal filing gets done.
As we find out more about this new digital reality it's the human element that's missing. Just today there was a need for a clerk to get papers in our hands so that a little girl could be adopted by her grandfather after her parents death. If the superior court clerk didn't answer the phone and listen to the attorneys case as to why this needed to be expedited, if there wasn't a bike messenger ready to physically get those documents, they would be sitting in archives for 4-6 weeks as this little girl waits.
As it was we were able to get the job done that same day because of human interaction and physical requisition of documents. These things do not happen by email. In fact many counties are switching back from e-filing systems because of the cost of constant upgrades and unreliable software.
Also the web is subject to fraud. When you receive an email, you don't even know who you are talking to anymore. When you receive a document by bike messenger you sign for it and she tells you what it's about. There is a human being involved whose professional duty is to make sure that you receive the message. That is very important to the legal profession.
Also as mobile notaries, we bike messengers make sure that people are who they say they are, and when they are signing documents that they understand them and are signing under their own will. You don't want that done over internet. Remember all those robo-signings set up by the banks to fraudulently speed up foreclosures a couple years ago?
We deliver cookies, blood plasma, bone marrow, and biopsies. You can't fit any of those in an email, and when we deliver we give you a real smile not an emoticon. ;)
So who needs bike messengers? Everyone does!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Impact letter for consideration at Elliot Dess's sentencing

I miss Zack immensely. At Clutch Couriers we all do. He was our friend, confidant, and when he was taken from us, ¼ of our crew.
For years he was always there on time with a friendly greeting or bad pun. Now when the time comes for the bad joke that would break the tension I try weakly to fill the role but it's not the same.
Beyond being kind and funny, Zack's presence as a reassuring veteran on the crew is sorely missed. By always giving an encouraging or helpful word to the rookies, Zack filled an important role in maintaining our company's high standard of service, and relieved pressure on me as a business owner by being so reliable and generous with his knowledge and good humor.
He could have easily chosen to see his other crew members as competition, but he wasn't that way. These kind of people don't come along every day, and they are impossible to replace, in your work and in your life.
As much as losing Zack is hard, it's how he died that really gets to me. I am aware of the dangers of the job, and we all take risks, but I can't think about a world where people are left for dead on the side of the road and just go about my business. The brutality of it is paralyzing.
I have been a bike messenger for 18 years both in New York City and Santa Cruz, but this really shook me. It took me a while not to think that some drivers were out to get me. This is my job, and I had to soldier on, we all did, but I know we had to lean on each other hard to get the job done.
Part of what helped was the memory of Zack and what a great person he was. I have met so many amazing people and heard so many stories about how Zack has touched their lives, and I can see in their eyes what an impact he made.
I can only imagine the loss his family feels. I am honored to have met them, and I can see Zack in all of their quirky kindnesses.
I know that this was an tragic accident and maybe some day it can be reconciled or even forgiven, but the act itself, the senseless loss of our friend Zachary, can never be fixed.

Rick Graves/Clutch Couriers

Richard Graves
Clutch Couriers