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Bike messengers keep economy rolling

VOICE OF THE PEOPLE (LETTER) - Chicago Tribune, March 28, 2006, By Sam Goldman

Chicago -- Upon reading the March 17 Chicago Tribune editorial "There oughta be a law," I was irked by the irresponsibility of this paper's assertion that "immunity from prosecution could be extended to any pedestrian who knocked over a bicycle messenger."

I remind you that bicycle messengers in Chicago play an important role in lubricating the wheels of our economy.

I am a messenger in Chicago, and a delegate in the Chicago Couriers Union, and there are roughly 300 bike messengers in Chicago.

We pick up and deliver thousands of documents, packages, meals, and odds and ends to and from Chicago's corporations, law firms, restaurants, architecture firms, hospitals, municipal building, courts, banks, retail shops and residences.

This also includes media publications, including your paper, which receives hundreds of packages a week from Chicago's bicycle messengers.

The messenger is one of the most important links in the delivery of information to Chicago's business community.

Chicago messengers work in all weather conditions, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day if necessary.

We have none of the benefits or job protections that you enjoy, including workman's compensation, disability and health insurance.

But we work hard every day.

They are the ambassadors of goodwill to the city's tourists, helping them with information and directions.

Often they are the first on the scene to report a serious accident or help a motorist out of a burning car.

According to a 1997 report, bicycle couriers increase the safety of pedestrians compared to cars.

Studies show that pedestrians are 250 times as likely to be injured by a car, bus or taxi than a bike.

Consider the alternative: There could be thousands of car couriers speeding through the Loop.

This sort of editorial is dangerous and reckless.