Bike messenger workers provide fast delivery service for documents and packages, usually in big city environments. Cars, trucks, trolleys, trains, buses, and pedestrians are just some of the hazards that face bike messengers. The need for fast, efficient service in dense urban areas requires bike messengers to keep their eyes on safety while they are cycling the streets.
Always wear your bike helmet; it can protect you from head injuries in the case of an accident. The helmet should fit snugly and sit flat on top of your head, not tilted backward. Buckle the chin strap securely and ensure that the helmet does not interfere with your vision.
Follow the traffic regulations in your area; bicyclists are subject to the same traffic laws as vehicles. Stop at stop signs and lights and ride in the correct lane and direction of traffic. Don’t ride on expressways, highways, or interstates unless authorized by signs. Do not ride on sidewalks; when you get to your destination, dismount and walk the bike on the sidewalk. Maintain a safe speed.
Ride defensively. Leave room between yourself and vehicles and pedestrians. Don’t hang on to another vehicle to “skitch” a ride. Look ahead for hazards such as slick or uneven road conditions, construction, and blocked traffic. Keep both hands on the handlebars for maximum control. Don’t assume what another driver or pedestrian will do; wait until they have completed their maneuver before you proceed. Watch out for opening doors on vehicles; don’t get “doored.” Use your hand signals to communicate your intentions to drivers and pedestrians.
Be visible! Make sure your bike has white headlights and red taillights and use them dusk to dawn. Both wheels should have reflectors. Wear brightly colored and/or reflective clothing. Never assume that another vehicle or pedestrian sees you. Equip your bike with a bell or horn. Maintain your bike properly and do a bike safety check before you begin your workday. Ensure that your brakes work evenly and completely. Always carry a spare tube and basic tools.
Bike messengers are exposed to traffic and the elements year-round. Take precautions for heat and cold stress; stay hydrated and wear light layers of clothing. Use sunscreen and ultraviolet (UV)-rated sunglasses to protect your eyes and skin from the sun. Breathing in vehicle exhaust fumes can irritate your eyes or respiratory tract, so keep your distance from vehicles with excessive exhaust.
Think safety and keep the ride alive.