Meals On Wheels, Literally: Bike Messengers Taking NYC Food Delivery Scene By Storm

It’s lunch time in New York City — lunch hour, and the roads are covered in rain, and full of traffic. You need food. Meet Frankie Galdorise and Musa (a.k.a. Moses) Bradley, bicycle messengers who traverse the city to get your food to you, piping hot.

This might sound intimidating, but pointing that out to Frankie Galdorise, who has been doing it for two years, makes him chuckle. Voyages like that are no big deal to him and other bike messengers who work days and nights delivering food to New York City residents. In fact, many love it. After all, the more risky the task, the more money they earn. Slippery roads, snow, the darkness and bustle of New York nights are not obstacles, rather, signs of a good shift to come.

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Like many bike messengers, Frankie Galdorise works as an independent contractor, signing up for various delivery services and taking orders via the companies’ apps. He agreed to wear a Microsoft Band fitness tracker to see how much energy and exercise his job demands from him.

Musa (a.k.a. Moses) Bradley is also out on New York City streets every day delivering food by bike — that is, when he isn’t on the road making music or mentoring children. Bradley has been delivering off and on for two years. He also agreed to wear a Microsoft Band fitness bracelet for one lunch shift, tracking heart rate, calories, distance, and stress levels.

What are their days like?

Galdorise and Bradley tend to work about six hours each day. Lunch orders generally roll in between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m, but both men particularly look forward to the dinner rush. That’s when the most orders are placed — and as a result, they make better money.

“It’s a hustle,” Bradley says. “A hustler will thrive in any business, but in this business, your hustle is how you interact with people, how you talk to people.” Bradley often rides wearing a vintage-style pilot’s hat. He says it serves as a conversation piece, which can earn him higher tips.

How lucrative the job is depends on how much time and effort bike messengers are willing to put in. Galdorise and Bradley say they can make as much as $35 an hour: Depending on how fast they ride and on weather conditions, the messengers can complete three or four orders in two to three hours.

Can they make a living this way?

Making a living delivering food is possible, Galdorise and Bradley say. But it depends on the how determined they are. It’s not uncommon for messengers to bounce from company to company depending on what orders are queued and how much they can make. Galdorise and Bradley both take orders from Caviar, a startup app promising fast delivery from more than 2,000 restaurants nationwide. But the riders have also used apps like Postmates, Seamless, and UberRush, one of the latest to join the delivery app scene.
That’s where the voyages begin, with the apps. A lot of riders spend the entire day perusing the apps and choosing the journey with the highest reward. After taking an assignment, the adventure begins.