After reading this article about a coffee company in Minneapolis that delivers their beans to customers using bicycle delivery drivers, I was curious whether there was anything similar in C-U. After some haphazard research, I found that Jimmy John’s and Insomnia Cookies both utilize bike delivery for their campus locations. If there are other businesses that utilize bike labor, or if you know anyone locally who uses their bike to make a living, please let me know.
Alex Voitik worked for Jimmy John’s last winter, and he was kind enough to answer some questions about the life of a delivery rider.
Smile Politely: Are there any special qualifications from getting a job in bike delivery?
Alex Voitik: No, anyone asking for a job on a bike, usually knows what they’re getting into.
SP: What is the delivery area that you served (from the 43 E. Green St. location)?
AV: It was the same delivery area as for cars: to Wright Street on the east, to Prospect on the west, Columbia to the north, and south to Windsor. I think we went all the way to Windsor because we delivered to Jimmy John’s corporate.
SP: What was the largest load that you carried?
AV: Sometimes I carried party boxes. The most I carried at one time was five deliveries and a box.
SP: What do you use to carry the items?
AV: I just use my messenger bag; I bought it specifically for the job.
SP: How do they determine whether a particular delivery will be by bike or car?
AV: There’s a rotation, whoever is back first gets the next delivery.
SP: Have you had any close calls with cars or pedestrians?
AV: I’ve had some issues with cars, not pedestrians – pulling out in front of me or passing closely. I was pushed once by a car coming out of a driveway that just kept going. People are a little frazzled downtown with all the one-way streets. A lot of times, I can get around as fast as the cars in those parts of town.
SP: Did you like the job? What did you like or dislike about it?
AV: I liked it. I liked going and dealing with the weather every day, Monday to Friday, on a regular schedule, just sucking it up and dealing with the weather.
SP: What was the most snow you had to deal with?
AV: There was one day where I was running to one-fourth of the deliveries, even though I was on my mountain bike.
SP: How far would you ride on a typical shift?
AV: I’d say 30-50 miles in a four-hour shift, including the ride to work and back. It was good because I kept in really good shape in the winter, when I wouldn’t normally ride as much.
SP: Would people ever tip more because you made the delivery on a bike?
AV: Sometimes, it’s not uncommon for someone to say, “Oh, you’re on a bike, here’s an extra dollar.” Sometimes, though, when the shop was busy and everything is behind, people would think that I was late because I’m on a bike.
SP: Anything else you’d like to say about the job?
AV: I used to work at Biaggi’s as a waiter, and I made 50% more hourly at the delivery job than I did waiting tables.