Messengers in motion

for Washington Post Magazine
Authored by Andrea Adleman

The bike messenger defies classification.  He is a competitive chess player, a professional stuntman and an urban ballet dancer, choreographing his way through the streets.  In this predominantly male industry, the messenger is brutally masculine.  To motorists behind the wheel, the messenger's acrobatics can be menacing, chaotic and reckless.  In his mind, he's just executing a routine power play based on methodical calculations.  The messenger sees space that isn't there.  The double-yellow line is a travel lane.  A two-foot gap between vehicles is a bypass.  The messenger's feel for the street is at once intellectual and tactile.  He touches nearby vehicles to read their movement.  The ultimate objective is to defy death every workday, while powering the wheels of commerce.

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