What It's Like to Be a New York City Bike Courier

Galdorise and Bradley tend to work about six hours each day. Lunch orders generally roll in between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m, but both men particularly look forward to the dinner rush. That's when the most orders are placed — and as a result, they make better money.

"It's a hustle," Bradley says. "A hustler will thrive in any business, but in this business, your hustle is how you interact with people, how you talk to people.” Bradley often rides wearing a vintage-style pilot's hat. He says it serves as a conversation piece, which can earn him higher tips.

How lucrative the job is depends on how much time and effort bike messengers are willing to put in. Galdorise and Bradley say they can make as much as $35 an hour: Depending on how fast they ride and on weather conditions, the messengers can complete three or four orders in two to three hours.

Making a living delivering food is possible, Galdorise and Bradley say. But it depends on the how determined they are. It's not uncommon for messengers to bounce from company to company depending on what orders are queued and how much they can make. Galdorise and Bradley both take orders from Caviar, a startup app promising fast delivery from more than 2,000 restaurants nationwide. But the riders have also used apps like Postmates, Seamless, and UberRush, one of the latest to join the delivery app scene.

That's where the voyages begin, with the apps. A lot of riders spend the entire day perusing the apps and choosing the journey with the highest reward. After taking an assignment, the adventure begins.


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