Two-Wheeled Delivery - Bike Messenger Trends

Bicycle messengers have delivered goods and documents for years. But just like other facets of the courier, logistics, and delivery industry, the bike sector is constantly evolving.

Bikes for Right-Now, Immediate Delivery

According to the Boston Globe, Postmates allows customers to order most any product from any store or restaurant in a city with Postmates’ mobile app. “Postmates assigns a bike courier to pick it {the product} up and deliver it to you, in one hour or less. All payment is handled through the app, using a credit card,” the Globe reports.

Bastian Lehmann, Postmates founder, created the company to help local merchants “compete with Amazon by offering quick delivery as an option.” In the Globe, Lehmann reports that local retailers are in danger. Postmates’ goal is to treat a city like it’s a warehouse and create a platform that connects local merchants with customers.

Speaking of Amazon...

Amazon on Two Wheels

If you thought couriers couldn’t get any faster, Amazon — the ever-present mover and shaker of the logistics world — is testing a program that will make delivery quicker.

In late 2014, Amazon began testing delivery via bike in New York, the Multi-Channel Merchant reports. The Wall Street Journal originally reported the news.

Amazon has recruited bicycle couriers to deliver certain items that have been purchased on Amazon.com “in an hour or two.”

“Amazon has already begun conducting time trials of three courier services to determine which it will use, dispatching riders to a destination, having them photograph it to confirm the address, and return...”

This service will help Amazon compete with other “brick-and-mortar” stores that already provide immediate delivery.

Going Green

Green-centric businesses are popping up all over the industry, but bicycle couriers are the original sustainable delivery method. Bikes, after all, are people powered, and only require conventional fuel (coffee, a person, and a banana).

While bikes are great delivery mechanisms for various products (food, documents, etc.), these two-wheeled wonders are now used to deliver flowers. And these aren’t just any flowers -- each bouquet is locally sourced and sustainably grown.

Petal by Pedal, a flower delivery company, is aiming to cut its carbon footprint by “saying no” to imported flowers. Imported flowers accumulate a ton of mileage (many florists order in flowers from all over the world), reports Victoria Dawson Hoff of Elle.

Kate Gilman, the business’ owner, formed her New York City company to source locally grown flowers and deliver them via bike.

Petal by Pedal isn’t the first company to capitalize on this idea. Other companies, such as Farmgirl Flowers and Bloom That, have a similar concept. Although bikes are well known as a delivery vehicle for food, food bikes are now becoming all the rage.

You may be familiar with food trucks -- rolling operations that sell food in a cheap and simple way. But now, “brewers, chefs, baristas and even farmers are turning to pedal-powered vehicles to bring their goods to consumers -- and, sometimes, actually produce them on the street,” NPR reports.

Some of the benefits of these food truck alternatives are the following:

• Bicycles are environmentally sound: Food bikes mean “fewer emissions into the urban air.”
• Food bikes make financial sense: According to NPR, a “fully outfitted food bike costs just several thousand dollars -- a fraction of the price of
a food truck, which runs tens of thousands.”
• Also: Food bikes are convenient. Bikes are easy to maneuver in outdoor settings, such as beer festivals, concerts, or farmers’ markets.

So far, it seems as though many of these food bikes, such as Trailhead Coffee Roasters, are doing well. Charlie Wicker, owner of Trailhead, says the following about his business: “We’re doing high volumes of retail business within the Portland area, and we use bikes because it works.”

To succeed, many vendors purchase specialty bikes that are custom built. The cycles accommodate packing and transport. Some bikes even have more extreme additions, such as a draft beverage service, cooking apparatuses, and an operating sink. The main concern with these bikes, though, is that if a person is cooking, prepping, and cleaning on her bike, she must comply with certain state health codes. That’s why many of these bikers forgo cooking on their cycles, and instead, cook at a home base, such as a restaurant, and bike the food into events.