New York Cityâ€™s bike messengers remain a fixture on the streets, having weathered the advent of the fax machine and, of course, e-mail. Now, with the cost of gas pummeling courier companies that rely on motorized vehicles, a few enterprising cyclists are using the opportunity to generate more business.
A small but growing number of pedal-powered messengers are outfitting their bicycles and, in some cases, tricycles, with boxes and flatbeds on which they can load hundreds of pounds of cargo.
â€œEighty percent of the jobs done in a van I can do,â€ said Hodari Depalm, the owner of Checker Courier, a cargo messenger company in Manhattan that says it can move up to 200 pounds of documents by bike. Mr. Depalm said his two-man messenger business had increased by 20 percent within the last year.
Gregg Zukowski has had similar success. A couple of years ago, Mr. Zukowski, the owner of Revolution Rickshaws, a fleet of pedicabs in Manhattan, replaced the passenger seats on a few of his tricycles with flatbeds and lockable cargo boxes capable of carrying up to 550 pounds of goods. He started using the tricycles to make deliveries for bakeries and catering companies and was even hired last month to help a man move into a one-bedroom apartment.
â€œWeâ€™ve joked about doing funerals,â€ Mr. Zukowski said. Mr. Zukowskiâ€™s business is catching on swiftly enough that he hopes to have as many as 30 of his tricycles on the road in the next 18 months.