Street Riding Years; London & Despatch

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For a few years in the early 1980s, motorcycle despatching became a cool and well paid job in London. Not delivering people’s shopping and dinners, but important stuff like legal documents, portfolios, artwork, films and yes, sometimes sandwiches or forgotten keys. By the end of the decade the boom had bust.

At one point a member of the Soviet Foreign Ministry visited London for the first time. When asked what his most memorable aspect was of London, he replied,
‘The bike riders. They’re everywhere, weaving in and out of traffic like alien cosmonauts.’

This 2010 article explains how digital killed the two-wheeled two-way radio stars, and this 2004 article also covers London and despatch. 

One of the best galleries I’ve found of mid-80s London despatchers is by photographer Phil Crean. Today’s Deliveroo scooter boys just don’t have the same vitality and chutzpah. Probably because they’re not even earning half as much.

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