Powered by the action of their own legs, courier bikers offer a “green” solution for courier services and at the same time send a message to all the young bikers who have appeared in the city: claim your asphalt space.
The name Bondex is a paraphrase of the well-known Fedex courier company and the word “bond”, as they call the parcel delivery obligation undertaken by courier bikers.
Foot pedestrians, featured figures on the streets of New York and San Francisco, have been showing up in Athens since last April. The bearer of the idea in Greece is 33-year-old Haris Skafturos, Bondex. He left the shipbuilding studies and office assignments and decided to make a bicycle, which was not separated from a boyfriend – because of his engagement with the triathlon – his profession. “It’s not an original, but a well-known idea, which many urban cyclists were discussing to make reality, but it was getting started first. I was looking for a long time to find the first customer to take me out on the road and last April I did it. Within nine months, we were five permanent postmen, and another ten were waiting for workload. ”
Customers choose not only because they are environmentally friendly but also because they are cheaper and faster. They average 35-40 km / h when cars make 10-12 km and 20 km of motorcycles. The services they offer are similar to those of a real courier. That is, if you are in a hurry to send something, no matter when you call, the order is done immediately, with a shorter delivery time of 45 minutes in any part of Athens. “For me,” says Ch. Skafturos, “the biggest success is that the mailman of a multinational with whom we work has told us he would choose us anyway, regardless of bicycle.”
On the road you will not be distinguished from ordinary cyclists, unless you are observer. The bikes they use are tracking, which means they have no brakes, they are very light, so relaxed and can catch 80 km / h. And that’s because a common day, which includes about 15 traditions and translates to 70-100 km of distances, “comes out” harder with a simple bike.
Specialization to practice the profession of courier biker is not required, besides being a rider of belief. “You have to count miles on the vehicle. I have taken 250 resumes, but I can not trust someone who just wants to come because he has no other job. When I started, what I had to get used to was to move in the traffic, “says X. Skafturos. “It was not that difficult at all. Definitely easier than being on a motorcycle, since the bike is not covered by the road traffic code. That does not mean, of course, that you will be on the sidewalk. Besides, when you ride a bicycle, how car guides bring you makes you think differently about pedestrians. When 200 km of cars pass, you know well how the pedestrian feels when you pass him by 20 km. ”
Microaccidents, as well as adventures when you move to the center of Athens, outside the car’s “cabin”, are within the program. He has broken his two wrists when braking for a … cat, licked him in Aharnon Street when he believed he was an immigrant while he ate wood in Piraeus when a driver thought he hit his tricycle. However, the job of a courier biker is above all personal pleasure for X. Skafturo. “I see the city differently. I like it very much when I change areas and from Kifissia I go down to Piraeus and from Peristeri I ascend to Psychiko, watching the social stratification. I like graffiti, slogans on walls, pass through parks, and in a while I find myself in the most impoverished and impoverished parts of urban fabric. You know the city well. On the same roads you can see nothing of them. ”
In the fifteen years of being a systematic cyclist, Skafturos sees urban biking evolving. “I remember ten years ago they showed me with my finger, they called me” crazy “. Today it is commonplace. If you stand for five minutes at Vasilissis Sophia, you will see 100 bikes pass. It is certainly a fashion that can pass, but many will insist. ”
Changing the world towards cyclists does not mean that traffic difficulties have changed. On metro and bicycle routes, Ch. Skaktouros expresses a view different from that of the cycling community. “Why would you put your bike on the subway? From Agios Antonios to Agios Dimitrios it is not even 10 km.
If you can not do 10 km on the bike, you better not do it at all. What does it mean to harass the world that is in the metro? “The same questions pose for bicycle paths. “We have to get the issue of travel from scratch,” he says. “Let’s start with the training of drivers, show them that the cyclist is entitled to the road, to set rules and fines, to change the culture. If bicycle tracks are now being constructed (not properly designed), everyone will be outraged, they will see the cyclist outside the cycle path and throw stones at him. ”
Its proposal is for cyclists to claim their own space. “If we get 500 bikes on the road and the guides see us, then the mindset will change. If I do not fit your bike in Kifissia, then where will you go? In a strait where you will surely bother? ”
His desire, the phenomenon of Bondex, the first bicycle carrier, to spread, as happened in Thessaloniki with the emergence of the new company, bike2door. There will be some more of the same type in Athens and together they will conquer the city center, which will be served by “messengers”, as they are called, and even few of the 10,000 cyclists who appeared in the last bike ride to go out on the streets on a daily basis.