Alexandra Martineau for metro toronto


James Kuz, a bike courier for The Messengers International, says that delivering in the cold isn’t so bad after all.

“Some new people come in and they have a very kamikaze attitude ... they increase their risk.”

Five colleges and three universities couldn’t keep James Kuz from becoming a bicycle courier.

After two seasons spent as a bike courier in Toronto, then-art student Kuz couldn’t get cycling off his mind.

“I couldn’t stick with anything because I wasn’t interested,” he said.

Kuz is now a courier for The Messengers International.

An average day starts with Kuz picking up deliveries from the downtown core that are destined for the north end.

“I work my way out there…other calls come up, which I pick up along the way,” he said.

After making his way back south, Kuz usually has to repeat the same trajectory once more, he said.

The cold weather doesn’t repel Kuz. “I find that cold can be managed, it’s heat that can’t be managed… My big funny line is that in the summer, it’s illegal to ride your bike naked and you get a hell of a rash,” he said.

Don’t be fooled by what appears to be thin material on the backs of couriers. They wear special gear that protect them when the temperature falls, he said.

“A lot of products that come out now are thin but they can manage to insulate.”

These products draw out any moisture vapour. “If you build up a lot of moisture vapour that’s how you get cold,” he said.

Kuz has been in the business so long he doesn’t need to worry about the dangers of traffic.

“I’ve been at it long enough now that I can anticipate everything, and I don’t knowingly weave into what I recognized as a high risk factor,” he said.

But the same cannot be said of all couriers — especially the novices.

“Some new people come in and they have a very kamikaze attitude…they increase their risk,” he said.

Being a courier allows Kuz to stay healthy, physically active and spend time outdoors.

And he feels he’s doing more than just delivering brown paper envelopes. “I really get a sense of contributing to Toronto. The pace of the economy that Toronto generates…it has to be done by bicycle messengers,” he said.