Nota Bene: Insider Views of the Metropolis

The Flow, on Two Wheels 1

Scott Gries, Getty Images

A bike messenger who won Monster Track, an illegal race through New York City.

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Scott Gries, Getty Images

A bike messenger who won Monster Track, an illegal race through New York City.

How do workers find meaning in a low-paid, dangerous, and at times stigmatized job? Take bike couriers, a controversial bunch. Demonized by many urban drivers and pedestrians, they also elicit a romantic curiosity. Often jauntily distinctive in dress and attitude, they appear to belong to an interesting but obscure subculture, writes Jeffrey L. Kidder, a sociologist at Northern Illinois University and author of Urban Flow: Bike Messengers and the City (ILR Press/Cornell