Ghosts on the Street - North America
Invisible Infrastructures:
Ghosts on the Street - North American Sessions 15'

The project, “Invisible Infrastructures: Ghosts on the Street”, begins by exploring the daily routes of bicycle couriers working in the the urban environment. As couriers, we’re on the street all year round in the wind, snow, heat, and rain, picking up and hand delivering any kind of object you could imagine. The miles we travel each day give us a fast-paced visual view of the city that is unparalleled in its perspective. Flying through traffic, ducking through yellow lights: one minute we’re there, the next minute we’re gone.

This summer I plan to ride alongside bicycle couriers for each day of the business week, traveling to 15 metropolitan cities spread all across North America. While riding with the couriers, I will GPS record the route we take as the courier picks up and drops off packages throughout the city. It is important for me to record all the little details of each route because alleyways and small passages often provide the unknown shortcuts to the faster and more knowledgeable ways to move through and around the city.

By riding along side each courier, I will gain insight into each individuals style of moving through their respective cites, and it is this individuality that makes each route/map specific and original to the courier. This route can never be replicated: the pick ups and drop offs are always different times and different locations every single day. Coupled with the rapidly changing infrastructure and new developments of the center of these metropolitan cities where our job takes us the most; some of these streets and routes may not be accessible or even possible in the years to come. This is why it is important for me to complete this project now and showcase these invisible infrastructures created by bicycle couriers before they are vanquished.

There is a form of embodied knowledge gained through knowing the layout of the city, that only someone who rides a bicycle through them everyday possesses. The body knows before the mind when to take a quick left or right to avoid an accident and continue on route. Bicycle couriers traverse the longest reaches of our continually expanding cities to hand deliver parcels that otherwise could not be delivered in time. When combined with the fitness level and fearlessness required to maneuver through some of the toughest traffic situations, worst weather conditions, as well as all the other "perks" of the service industry; you really have to give it up to the bicycle couriers who work day in and day out. The fact that people are entrusting us, the couriers, with their most important items, makes this job such a responsibility yet at the same time, so rewarding. It is these aspects of time, distance, and bodily knowledge of your own fitness level is what the courier’s job is all about: Knowing the shortest distance to any point in the city and also knowing approximately how long it will take to arrive there. As the cities continue to grow, and people get pushed further and further apart, it is the job of the bicycle courier to connect all these people back together.

"Messengers eliminate the distance between people that space creates. So we kinda shrink the world. You’re handing it to me, I'm handing it to them; that space in between just disappears."

-Greg Ugalde, Veteran Bike Messenger in NYC

It is important for me to complete this courier documentation project now, before these older forms of infrastructure fade away. The influx of technology and the ease of virtual communication is forgetting to acknowledge the foundations of physical sincerity set fourth by our ancestors in order to communicate in a pre-technological world. Lewis, Clarke, and Sacajawea mapping the west. Paul Revere making his famous midnight ride. These older cultural movements required human-to-human interaction and trust in order to progress forward, and it is this potential loss of the human element of the bicycle courier that is so important to preserve.

Throughout this project, I am constantly traveling to each place and personally meeting each of these bicycle couriers, keeping this human-to-human contact alive. On a greater scale, I am connecting people all around North America through the respect I have for this occupation of a bicycle courier. After working for a week and collecting data in each city, I will be sitting on the bus/train for hours at a time, giving me ample time to write and reflect on the experiences had in each prior city. I plan to map out the GPS data from each courier and transform this data into multiple three-dimensionally layered plexiglass “maps”, while also making a corresponding book with the body of the North American Ghosts on the Street sessions, containing photos of each courier I worked with along with their routes for the workday. Out of this exploration I hope to culminate a body of work that could be understood and appreciated regardless of whether one knows or cares what the job of a bicycle courier entails.

Throughout working on this project, many bike messengers, some who I have personally known, have been killed while working on this dangerous job. To dedicate this project to the messengers past and the ones still out here in the rain, sleet, snow and wind every day. You will always be remembered by your fellow messengers on the streets. Ride in Peace fam.

A rough itinerary of my trip consists as follows:

June 1-6 Richmond VA
June 7-13 Washington DC
June 14-20 Baltimore MD
June 21-27 Philadelphia PA
June 28-July 4 Boston MA
July 5-11 Montreal CAN
July 12-18 Toronto CAN
July 19-25 Chicago IL
July 26-August 1 Milwaukee WI
August 2-8 Minneapolis MN
August 9-15 Seattle WA
August 16-22 Portland OR
August 23-29 San Francisco CA
August 30-September 4 Los Angeles CA
Sept 5-9 Denver CO

I have already begun my trip, but I am running low on travel funds and I need your help to continue my journey.


Denver CO

Los Angeles CA

San Francisco CA

Portland OR

Seattle WA

Minneapolis MN

Milwaukee WI

Chicago IL

Boston MA

Philadelphia PA

Baltimore MD

Washington D.C.

Richmond, Virginia