Cyclogeography: Journeys of a London Bicycle Courier by Jon Day

By Jon Day

Cyclogeography is in regards to the bicycle within the cultural mind's eye and likewise a portrait of London as visible from the saddle. within the nice culture of the psychogeographers, Jon Day makes an attempt to leave from the map and reclaim the streets of the town. trained by way of a number of grinding years spent as a bicycle courier, he lifts the lid at the solitary lifetime of the courier. touring the unmapped byways, shortcuts, and concrete edgelands, couriers are the declining, invisible group of town. The parcels they convey maintain issues operating. if you live on the crushing sturdiness of the task, the bicycle can turn into what holds them jointly.

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Extra resources for Cyclogeography: Journeys of a London Bicycle Courier

Sample text

They have vague notions of east and west, of north and south. They associate certain areas with certain activities – work and leisure, home and away – but they are isolated from the whole by London’s scale, and by those mediating technologies through which they generally encounter it: screens and maps and the public transport networks which conspire to divorce people from places. Conditioned by these ways of encountering the city, before I became a courier I had only vague notions of its topography.

The stroll was opposed to the commute. Flânerie represented a way of confronting the endless flow of people who thronged the city’s streets twice a day, regular as clockwork, on their ways to and from work. On foot, the flâneur avoided the official channels of movement – the circulatory networks of tram and bus and train – choosing instead to inhabit the hinterlands and marginal areas of the city. For Benjamin the leisured status of the flâneur was a kind of political statement also. ’ By the 1950s, these radical pedestrian impulses had been channelled into the loosely defined notion of ‘psychogeography’, a term coined by the sociologist Guy Debord and derived from his investigations with the Situationist Internationale, an avant-garde revolutionary group which organised various subversive happenings in mid-century Paris.

I was beguiled by the wonderfully straightforward economies of the job. As a courier it is easy to see what, precisely, you are being paid to do: earnings are measured in miles – the distance theory of value. Carry a package from one postcode to another and you get paid accordingly. If it needs to go further or get there quickly you get paid a bit more. Since their invention, bicycles have been used to carry messages. In Paris in the late nineteenth century men and boys on penny-farthings and velocipedes delivered cheques from bank to bank, or covered the final miles of a fledgling telegraph network, carrying messages from telegraph office to recipient.

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