My name is Bill Chidley, a.k.a. Buffalo Bill. I am a London cyclist & I write about cycling, when I get the chance & the spur.

I was a bicycle courier (or cycle messenger, if you prefer) for a number of years. In 1988, I wrote my first article for the cycle courier fanzine, Moving Target, which had been founded by Andy Dickson, Paul Skilbeck & Charlie Bayliss. I have done a little bit of free-lance writing for various cycling publications, but have mostly written for messenger ‘zines, and principally for Moving Target, of which I have been the editor since 1992.

Apart from messengering, I have done a lot of leisure cycling, starting with the Eastway 10s, various kinds of messenger racing (I won the Veteran’s prize at the 1996 Cycle Messenger World Championships), road-racing, MTB racing (Beastway, an Essex Winter Series) track racing & roller racing (I was there at the birth of Rollapaluza), sportives (La Marmotte, La Ventoux), Audax, credit-card & full-up touring & now, mostly, hard-court bicycle polo.

In 1994, I was part of the organising committee of the 2nd Cycle Messenger World Championships on what was then derelict land at Royal Victoria Dock (the site is now occupied by the ExCeL centre). The event was attended by over 400 competitors, and over 1000 spectators.

In 1996, I helped to found the International Federation of Bicycle Messenger Associations. The organisation is responsible for ensuring the succesful realisation of the Cycle Messenger World Championships. In 2013, the 21st CMWC took place in Lausanne.

In 2003, as chair of the London Bicycle Messenger Association, I helped to organise the 2003 European Cycle Messenger Championships at Eastway Cycle Circuit. Some observers credit this event with starting the fixed gear craze in London. I am also sometimes, incorrectly, credited with inventing the word ‘fakenger’, a disparaging term used to describe cyclists who, in the opinion of the observer, want look like bicycle messengers but are not.

In 2004, on behalf of the LBMA, and after lobbying following the death of London bicycle messenger Sebastian Lukomski, I was invited by the Mayor of London to participate in the HGV working group, set up by the Mayor to examine ways in which to reduce the number of fatalities caused by collisions between lorries and cyclists. Although the absolute number of fatalities caused by collisions between cyclists and HGVs has only fallen slightly, the relative fall has been greater, although much work (including a conditional day-time ban on HGV movements) needs to be done.

In 2000, I was honoured with a special award “In Appreciation For All You Have Give To The Messenger Community”, and in 2004 I received the Marcus “Fur” Cook Award.

I have been a regular guest on The Bike Show, hosted by Jack Thurston, most recently part of a panel discussing Mayor Johnson’s ‘Vision for Cycling in London’. I also appear on The Relatively Good Radio Show, which is broadcast on Resonance FM every Sunday at 3pm.

4 comments
  1. Hi Bill,

    I just wanted to say that I totally agree with you, 20 mile an hour speed limits are essential to improving the safety of cycling in London and the level of cycling participation.

    In setting up my company Wine Rides Ltd, I ended up cycling round a number of places in the UK and speaking to a lot of noncyclists. Basically I was trying to find vineyards to partner with, and all the people working there generally are not cyclists. I was struck by the fact that everybody said to me: “round here is so hilly”, and “the drivers round here are mad.”

    Although I’d love to, I will try and avoid talking about cycle safety too much. What we’re doing is trying to convince noncyclists to start cycling, and cycle commuters to get out and enjoy their bikes more. Unfortunately talking about cycle safety isn’t really that conducive to that. But I totally agree with you that we need evidence-based policy.

    If you’re interested, I’d love to write a blog view about doing a cycling-based start-up company.

    If that is of interest, please feel free to contact me at the email I’ve provided 🙂

    Best wishes Alex

    Like

    • Alex, I would be happy to see a blog post on this topic, but I’m not sure if this blog, being as it is stuff that I write, is the place for it. Do you have a blog that you could post it on? I would be happy to share the link.

      Like

  2. Hi Bill,

    I’m a Cultural Geographer at the university of London doing work into the impact that location-based services (Digital maps, Googlemaps, Sat-navs, Garmins – that kind of thing) have on ‘everyday’ experiences of place. I’ve wanted for some time to hear about how cycle couriers use/don’t use these kinds of services when at work. After coming across your blog I thought you might be someone worth talking to.

    If you’d be happy to chat, either via here or in person, about this subject then please get in touch and we can arrange something. It would be great to get hear what you’ve got to say on the matter.

    All the best,
    Mike

    Like

    • Mike, I have been thinking about all this stuff – the impact of GPS on memory etc a lot over the last few years, as people move from paper maps and remembering where places are, to being reliant on cloud maps.

      Like

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