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Sociologist: Bike Messengers Relish Their Dangerous Jobs

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(Jed Jacobsohn/ Getty Images)

(Jed Jacobsohn/ Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The society of Bike Messengers how has its own sociologist, who says the muddy and dangerous work can have its own rewards.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Northern Illinois University professor Jeffrey Kidder recently published “Urban Flow — Bike Messengers and the City.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Kidder himself worked as a bike messenger in Seattle and New York, where he found skilled messengers need practice in map routing and micro-routing – essentially traffic dodging.

“If you put Lance Armstrong in the city – he’s far more fit in a cardiovascular sense than any of the messengers that I’ve ever met – but he’s not going to be able to get through downtown Chicago traffic as fast,” Kidder said.

Kidder says some take the two wheel job just because they need work. But he says many bike messengers actually like the job despite the fact that the pay is low, the work can be dirty, and dangerous.

He points out some messengers are so into their jobs that on vacation, they travel long distances for “Alley Cat” competitions which are urban races for bike messengers.

Professor Kidder says bike messengers have two main advantages over those who may be higher paid in computer-equipped cubicles.

One advantage, Kidder says, is that messengers enjoy freedom from supervision. He says they also experience great satisfaction from “flow,” or total immersion in the creativity needed to route themselves across town and through traffic in the shortest time possible.

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