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San Francisco bike couriers making comeback

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Bicycle couriers in San Francisco are making a comeback in the digital age by supplying a culture with a growing hunger for instant gratification.

During the last two decades, the couriers had declined in number because companies began sending important documents to one another over the Internet rather than having them physically delivered by bike messengers.

But now, two-wheeled couriers are in growing demand, The San Francisco Chronicle reports, because companies such as Google, Amazon and eBay promise the same-day delivery of their products.

“I've seen a massive paradigm shift from business-to-business courier service to business-to-consumer,” Chas Christiansen of TCB Courier told the newspaper. “We're really trying to bring back the courier culture and keep it alive by shifting what we deliver from the packages to food, wine and flowers.”

Christiansen launched TBC Courier in 2009, focusing on delivering food to customers, which is inherently difficult, because food spills and needs to arrive before gets cold. His couriers also face a stigma by their competitors who believe that delivering food doesn't meet the spirit of true bike messengers, he said.

Courier Krita Self, 31, said the side job supplemented her career as an artist and teacher, and she was allowed to explore the city while making extra cash.

Courier Doug Cliford said there was an advantage to delivering his clients hot food rather than stale legal documents.

“People are just excited to see you,” he said, “instead of thinking, `Oh, there's a lot more work I have to do.' "

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