For the past couple of years the unique style of cycle couriers has inspired a new, rapidly growing, sub-culture of fashion conscious fixed wheel cyclists. But as the current global economic crisis starts to really bite, are authentic cycle couriers feeling the pinch?
In a BBC Radio 4 documentary broadcast today, several couriers talk of their dismay at a decline in business and talk of the struggle to earn a living as the work dries up.
One courier interviewed, 42-year-old Will, has been a courier since 1992 and says “it is the worst I’ve ever known it.” He adds “business is down 25% on this time last year, there’s less work to go round, and it’s being spread more thinly. You notice it; your wages are going down.”
He goes on to say that he’s now earning an average of £40 to £50 a day. Some couriers, he says, are earning just £120 for a five day week.
Lisa Burn, CEO of Creative Cars and Couriers, says that, after a strong start to 2008, business “completely went off the boil in the last quarter. Almost as soon as the news of the credit crunch hit in the media, it was like turning off a light.” She goes on to say that the company is predicting a 25% decline in 2009.
Contrasting with this bleak news is that of the staggering six- to seven-month waiting list for courier positions at Creative Cars and Couriers. Cycle couriers might be struggling in this recession, but as a trend the lifestyle shows no sign of slowing.
The 30 minute documentary, available on BBC iPlayer, is worth listening to.