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Bad Messenger, BAD!

Kamikaze Riding.

I don’t ride like I do is this video very often any more, it’s illegal, it’s dangerous for other road users, it’s bad for the discussion Toronto is currently having about sustainable transportation, it’s bad for advocacy towards more bicycle infrastructure — and it’s bad for my health.

Towards a common sense discussion about bicycle transportation, I ride according all the traffic laws (except streets posted One Way to calm traffic, and 4-way stop signs along quiet streets I think should be cycle-ways – should be posted ‘Yield to Bicycles’).

View Bad Messenger, Bad! in a larger map

I uploaded this because it is important that we have a discussion about how messengers are forced to ride in the core doing their jobs – it is a fact of life – and I think the discussion should begin with a better understanding of the much vilified, underpaid, over-worked, unrepresented, professional Bicycle Messenger – who’s working conditions are the most dangerous of any job in this economy.

This is how Messengers ride for example, as the end of the day approaches and they need to get packages off before receptionists leave for home at 5pm. At this time of day in the Core, traffic is extremely heavy and frantic – or grid locked. So Kamikaze riding usually includes massive numbers of pedestrians jay walking while the cyclist races between lanes of stopped cars, personally risking door prize injuries – and risking the safety of others (usually pedestrians) – while going 25 kph.

Some riders love this style of riding – they are addicted to it. It’s a Master of the Universe feeling doing this – and in heavy traffic, well,  you can imagine the adrenaline rush.

On the ride in this video I had to get from Woodbine and Danforth to Carlaw and Queen in 10 minutes because I promised someone I would be at a free Bike Clinic on time (especially this week because we were short mechanics). So I reverted to a ‘before time’ style of riding to do it – Kamikaze Courier.  While I was at it, I thought I’d show you a Messenger’s ‘POV’.

In this video I never stop – I slow at a couple of major intersections – but I never stop. When a courier has packages on that are time sensitive, this is how they get them there on time.

Do not try this at home. I had one full year under by belt as a messenger before I rode like this – and I know this particular route like the back of my hand.

Ride Time:  14:35
Total Distance: 5.09 km
Average Speed: 20.94 kph

I could have taken 2 minutes off the run with more Kamikaze riding on this route. I stopped riding Kamikaze at the top of Jones Av and took a leisurely pace south off Gerrard down Galt to Dagmar,  to Dundas and down to Queen via Boston Av.

But I was still less than 5 minutes late for the start of the  South Riverdale Community Health Centre Bike Clinic.


South Riverdale Community Health Centre Bike Clinic is every Thursday (year ’round) from 1pm until 3pm – at 955 Queen Street East – through the front doors, on your right in the main lobby.

I made a map of this route at Sport Distance Calculator as well – it has all kinds of neat topography and speed and distance calculation widgets -

There are lots more of these ‘Video Bicycle Rides’ up at my Youtube Channel -




Posted: March 16th, 2012
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