People in Buffalo need jobs. Decent jobs that pay a living wage, in work that matters.
My own difficulties finding decent work in a smallish city have lead me to do a lot of brainstorming. My ideal situation would be to start my own business. People don’t need Korean speaking creative problem solving facilitators very much in Buffalo. So, when I was talking with Seamus Gallivan of Slow Roll at a party, and he posed a challenge to me, “How would you deliver meals on wheels by bike?” It would be great to deliver food to the elderly on the East Side where Meals on Wheels has difficulty finding people.
In solving for that challenge there is an opportunity for a business. Wouldn’t it be cool, to have a network of cyclists who could work and money based on a simple willingness to work? This is possible, it’s been done before. 10 years ago, I don’t think it would’ve been possible in Buffalo because of population density and at the time, the economy wasn’t as dynamic as it is now. Traffic is getting worse in Buffalo and that is great news for bike couriers.
Here are some of the challenges and some of the potential solves:
Keeping Food Warm: Keeping food warm is hard even if it’s delivered by car. Insulated bags only work so well. If food deliveries are done by bike, particularly in Buffalo’s harsh winters, the food will get cold, especially if it is outside on a 3-mile trip on a bike.
Solve: Run a heating coil inside insulated bag, plug into a dynamo.
Bikes are Slower than Cars: In a city like Buffalo, lots of deliveries go back and forth between downtown and the outer suburbs. It is true that now, it is faster to run a delivery by car from downtown Buffalo to any of the outer suburbs. Even to further reaches of the city itself.
Solve: Collaborate with a motor vehicle delivery service to do hand-offs of packages that will go further than makes sense for bike delivery.
Getting enough bikers to cover the work: It is a fact of life that there are a lot of people that will not opt to work on bad weather days, holidays, nights and weekends. Where is the incentive for that?
Solve: On top of a by the delivery cut on deliveries, there would be incentive pay for nights, weekends, subzero temperatures, more than 3 inches of snow. I know these incentives work because at bike courier companies where these incentives are standards, they are a major reason why bike couriers all want to work at those companies.
As this concept develops, maybe it could be a Chapter II after Buffalo’s short history with bike messengers. The first bike messenger company was Mike Rizzo’s Speedy Delivery. Here’s hoping traffic gets worse and parking gets harder to find!