Toronto Bicycle Couriers; Free Enterprisers

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Via Toronto Observer:

Screen shot 2010-04-07 at 3.31.39 PMOn March 25, fully dressed in several layers of winter clothing, Dyer and five other bike couriers sat at the roundtable in downtown Toronto.

Some are members of the Toronto Bike Messenger Association (TOMBA), a non-profit organization set up for the benefit of 500 bike messengers. They’re planning an emergency fundraiser for May 1 and 2. Dyer explained the purpose of the Bike Messenger Emergency Fund.

“When we get hit, we get hit (and) we go down,” Dyer said. “The bike gets trashed. You lose a month’s pay … Then you get to fix your bike. All of a sudden you just spent two grand! That’s what the fund does. It helps you get back to work. It helps you pay the rent.”

Most couriers, 90 per cent of them, work as independent contractors. They incur the same risks that small business does. Dyer clarified that 90 per cent of messengers get paid on commission, per piece.

Courier Andrew Parker noted that Toronto bike messengers receive a standard commission of about 60 per cent of the rate charged by a courier company, but without employee benefits.

“As an independent contractor, (we’re not entitled to) benefits, unemployment insurance or sick leave pay,” Parker said.

Like small business, bike messengers pay a wide variety of indirect costs. For example, 70-year-old courier Steve Beiko says he might consume six meals on a cold winter day.

“Food is our fuel,” he said.

TOMBA spokesperson Marli Epp explained that couriers work around the clock, in good weather and bad.

“If there is a blizzard and they close schools, we’re working on our bikes,” Epp said.

Full article here

And, if you simply can’t get enough bicycle courier action, here’s a documentary from 2001 on Toronto bicycle couriers:

Critical Mass Pt 2
Critical Mass Pt 3
Critical Mass Pt 4
Critical Mass Pt 5
Critical Mass Pt 6
Critical Mass Pt 7

Fixie Tricks in Cabbagetown, Toronto

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Check out that full sleeve tattoo…. committed!

Toronto Bike Life: Queen Street Part 2

Queen Street West and Jameson Avenue – Parkdale Continued

Queen JamesonPart 1 of the Toronto Bike Life tour of Queen Street took us from the intersection of King, Queen, Roncesvalles and the Queensway into the heart of Parkdale.

Part 2 explores the depth of Parkdale and the rapid transformation of the area as you begin to approach the Dufferin Jog.

Super Savings Bicycle

Waiting

Happy Time

Barrier

1001

Crockery

Wire Cage

Best Convenience

For Sale

Garage Sale

Health

Toronto Bike Life: Queen Street Part 1

Toronto Bike Life: Queen Street Part 1

The intersection of Queen Street West, King Street West, Roncesvalles and the Queensway

Queen King Roncesvalles Queensway

With the early arrival of summer weather, Toronto’s streets are flooded again with cyclists. Perhaps it’s because there’s more light and perhaps it’s because you want to see them, but bicycles and the people who ride them are always apart of the city scene, they just seem to stand out in the sunshine.

In this series of photo posts I’m going to start on a major Toronto street and travel from end to end, documenting the bicycles and people who use these paved routes for work, school, play and life.

I’m starting with Queen Street. Home to the world’s longest streetcar route, thriving and struggling neighbourhoods and a vibrant cross-section of the people who are Toronto, Queen Street connects east to west even though the outer limits may seem worlds apart.

Part 1 begins where Queen Street West ends, at the intersection of King, Queen, Roncesvalles and the Queensway.

The Street Scene

To the south of this intersection you’ll find a bridge that can take you down to the waterfront. On a quiet morning this bridge seems to see more traffic than the intersections nearby:

Gateway to Lake Ontario

While there is plenty of street parking here, bicycles are the transportation of choice for Easy Rider patrons:

Easy Rider

Bike Bike Couch

Conspiracy

Hipster Shirt

Sonofagun

Parkdale Bike Rack TTC

Rack and Bike

Parkdale Parking

Rebuilding:

Home

New retail is proposed, an ugly building that wouldn’t look out of place in a strip mall. How does this mix with the existing neighbourhood?

Vision vs Reality

Vintage vs Reality

Passion for Bikes

Wait and Go

The Wait

Toronto Bike Life: Queen Street Part 2 Queen Street West and Jameson Avenue – Parkdale Continued

Something New for Spring

Jane Fonda Globe Headbadge

Lone Ranger Bell

Panda shot on the Martin Goodman Trail

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Mother and son took the omafiet and the Globe out for a sunny spring ride.

Break Away for Today! The Toronto Islands 1986

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Do they still advertise Toronto attractions on TV?