Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Inside the world of D.C. bike messengers

May 17, 2012 - 09:10 AM
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(Photo: flickr/elvertbarnes)

Master's students from the Corcoran photojournalism program have created a fantastic eight-and-a-half-minute mini-documentary called "Courier Culture" that any fan of D.C.'s urban transportation should check out. For decades, the bicycle mail courier has occupied a critical role in the District by ferrying papers from one office building to another at high speeds, but the position has been threatened for years. The Post referred to the industry's "rapid decline" back in a 2009 story, citing firms' modern ability to send files electronically. The technological changes caused the number of bike messengers to drop from 400 or so in the 1990s to about 150 in 2009.

But the bike messenger is not dead yet. Shawn Blumenfeld, a local cycling racer and past courier, tells me he estimates that there are still about 100 to 150 bike messengers today in the District because many messengers he knew from a couple years ago are still at work in the industry today — although he emphasizes that this is just a guess. Here's a glimpse into the fast-paced and complicated life facing these gritty cyclists, who still understand and value the freedom of their occupation, presented by the Corcoran students of Fixed Focus Productions:

Hat tip to Prince of Petworth.

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