Messengers for Good – a Network for Cycle Messengers
The formation of a club of Austrian cycle messengers, or: How do you get a chaotic cluster of very busy bike messengers to organise themselves, focus and create awesome things? A field report.
The Messengers For Good club, or MFG for short, consists of a group of Austrian cycle messengers from different companies and cities, which grows annually and has made a real name for itself in the bike scene. It was founded in Summer 2012 by a 7-strong crew in Vienna, primarily to have a support association for the existing Austrian Cycle Logistics Championships, which had already taken place in Linz (organized by the Steelcity Cycle Messengers).
Hypothesis # 1: The group needs goals to concentrate on and work towards.
As Vienna is home to the largest cycle messenger community in Austria, the capital city’s messengers wanted to do something bigger and more extensive, not restricting themselves to Vienna, but encompassing the whole of Austria. An annual membership fee, based on year dates and thus raised by 1 cent every year (20.15 euros this year), provides a financial foundation for organising various events and covering maintenance costs. In 2014 the club numbered 25 members from all over Austria.
PR and Image Cultivation of Bike Messengers
Correcting and revamping the overall image of cycle messengers is an important concern for Messengers for Good – moving them away from reckless road hogs to what they mostly are: respectable working, trustworthy and ever friendly professionals in their field.
Hypothesis # 2: The group needs a task that it can commit and dedicate itself to.
The first steps towards this are already visible – for example the participation of some members in various cycling events, such as the Critical Mass or different round table discussions and lectures about bicycles and mobility. Also, a mobile, free bicycle workshop, the so-called Bike Rescue, is often offered and run by cycle couriers and MFG members. And there have already been attempts to raise awareness in the media too, like a TV appearance (Barbara Karlich show) or a radio interview on a local radio show (Ö1 Nachtquartier) for instance.
Events for the Bike Community
One of the biggest tasks of Messengers for Good is enabling and promoting exchange between all the cycle messengers in Vienna as well as the whole of Austria in the form of various events. Amongst which, the first big event of 2012 was the Austrian Cycle Logistics Championships (OERBM2012), which could be held in the seaside town of Aspern that was still in the planning phase at that time. The End of Days-Alleycat organised for Halloween came as the follow-up event and was limited to fields in the Prater area of Vienna and the Prater Hauptallee (linear park). 2012 cost lots of stress and nerves, whereas the following year only small events like Alleycats or individual gold sprints took place.
Hypothesis # 3: The group also sometimes needs breaks in order to tackle new things once refreshed.
Last year it was time once more for something bigger and more wide-ranging and so the idea of a series on events came about, at the end of which an overall male and overall female winner could be declared based on points. Based on an example from Zurich, the Vienna Alleycat Series 2014 was born: a 7-part event series of Alleycats, gold sprints and a remark of the 2011 competition the messenger pentathlon, which at that time even attracted friends and colleagues from Switzerland and Germany. Last year’s Alleycat Series even won the world-famous messenger supplier CHROME as sponsor and the winner could be outfitted in their much sought-after Coveted Jerseys.
Hypothesis # 4: The group needs to have validation and loads of fun in what it does.
The Viennese gold sprint site was completely taken over by Messengers for Good last year and was used in all the gold sprint series, as well as the 2014 edition of the Austrian Cycle Logistics Championships in Innsbruck and several other small events.
The Bike Spins Further
And things will also be happening again this year on the MFG-related messenger and bike scene. This year’s Austrian Cycle Logistics Championships will take place in Vienna again. Anticipated to be in September, an exact date has yet to be announced. The annual Halloween Alleycat will also take place again, but it is not yet determined in what format. The gold sprint site is fit and ready to be mistreated again. Furthermore, Messengers for Good has reserved the old Donau island velodrome plot for two weekends – one in July and one in August – to stage a summer island bike courier jamboree. You should be excited about what is waiting for you there.