Shaf Hussain, who is 24 years old, has been a courier with Deliveroo, Uber, City Sprint and Rush. Now, for the last year, he has worked for Pedals Delivery and for himself as a freelance Bug Bounty Hunter. I spoke to him to see what being a bike courier at Pedals is all about.
JF - So Shaf what is your normal day like?
SH - For me it depends on what bug jobs I have, but I usually start around 8am or 9am. I might have some reoccurring jobs with Pedals, or I might have picked up some jobs from the Pedals website the day before. I probably do these in the morning and afternoon and then I might go to work on some bug bounty projects.
JF - What happens if the weather is terrible?
SH – You still cycle. I’ve cycled far in the rain sometimes, because it is raining so people might want more deliveries. You might get soaked, but I’ve got a good jacket.
JF – How far is far?
SH – I’ve cycled to Croydon before, I’ve cycled to Bermondsey, I’ve actually done those a few times for the same people.
JF – How do you know what route to take? Surely there are a million routes you can take? Especially is you have multiple deliveries?
SH – Pedals are really good, they give you the exact route you should probably take. I’ve cycled long enough to know how to get to most placed, but it can be hard to find the exact house/building/flat. Pedals are really good at directing you to the exact door, some courier companies can be pretty bad at that. You would spend ages wondering around looking for a company.
JF – So you like working for Pedals?
SH – I’ve worked for people like Deliveroo, Uber and Rush, and Pedals is definitely the best. They really care about their cyclists. They also allow us to take a few breaks, you can easily call them if you have a problem, and they just care about us.
JF – You didn’t take breaks at other companies?
SH – You did, but they were pretty short breaks. Working as a courier in central London is busy, and all couriers have an expected time frame, but some are pretty crazy, I knew one guy who worked for a big courier company and he got fired because it was a little slower than everyone else. He had just started so he wasn’t as fit as everyone else, but they got rid of him. It’s tough because most people have other gigs as well as being a courier so a break can be good to check in on them. And you are also cycling far and pretty fast so a break is nice.
JF – Have you learnt a lot by being a courier?
SH - You learn a lot about yourself. When I first started I thought I was fit, but I realised I was actually really unfit and really slow. Now it takes me 30 minutes to get from Farringdon to Fulham, but before it took me an hour, hour and a half. You also learn all the roads and lights in London. I know which route is the quickest and easiest, and which lights are the longest.
JF – Have you met any interesting companies?
SH - I’ve met loads of companies who I never knew about. It’s good because It is helping me understand companies and who is who. It’s useful if you want to setup a business! It’s good research.
JF – Would you have any advice for people who were thinking about being couriers?
SH – Enjoy it and have fun. Maybe also start with companies like Deliveroo or Uber, they may not pay as well or be a community like Pedals is, but you need to build up your road knowledge and fitness. It’s difficult, you do need to be really fit, especially if you go somewhere like the hills in Balham – one minute you are at the top, the next you have to cycle up a massive hill again. You also have to be alert! People, especially people with pets, don’t look or think about you when crossing the road.
JF – I don’t cycle too much, but cycling in London is really hard, drivers and people don’t always look for you, and if they do I think they assume you are just a bike so they can squeeze past you - do you struggle with this? Does it put you off being a bike courier?
SH – You just have to watch out for everything and everyone. Cars always scrape up against you, and then they get annoyed if you somehow scratch their car. I try and watch out but sometimes it happens. It doesn’t bother me really because I like to be out and about, I’m not good at sitting at a desk, I am setting up my own business though, so I will stop one day. For now though Pedals makes it really easy and it fits with my other jobs. There are some people who make it their career. There is this one guy who has been a bike courier for 20 years. I’m not sure I could do that, but he loves it and it works for him.
JF – And, final question, what is the craziest and/or weirdest thing you have delivered?
SH – It’s not as crazy as some, but Pub Quizzes. I always thought pubs made their own quizzes until I had to deliver a punch of quizzes to different pubs. It think though the craziest things one of the couriers at Pedals has done is cycled with a sofa on the front of her bike.
JF – A sofa?! Not sure I could do that somehow. Thank you Shaf! Happy cycling.
This interview has been paraphrased in order for it to be shortened.