Volume 20, Number 46 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | March30 - April 5, 2011

Downtown Express photo by Aline Reynolds

Shelly Mossey on his cargo bike.

Making speedy deliveries via cargo bike

BY Aline Reynolds

Shortly after 9/11, Battery Park City resident Shelly Mossey accepted a reduced price for a rental in Gateway Plaza thanks to a grant provided by the federal government.

While many traumatized New Yorkers were fleeing the city, “We really wanted to be Downtown – we’re urban warriors,” said Mossey, who runs a cargo bicycle delivery service in Lower Manhattan.

Mossey capitalized on a seven-month unemployment stretch to create a blog that last summer catapulted into a successful one-man business. The messenger, born and raised on the Lower East Side and in the delivery business for 25 years, transports groceries and home improvement goods to residents’ doors via cargo bike — a converted pedicab that can haul two to three hundred pounds at a time.

The enthusiastic deliveryman says he has a passion for what he does.

“I’m 56 years old, and I’m still getting that adrenaline rush from being out on the street and riding,” he said. “It’s like you’re skydiving all day long.”

Mossey delivers to residences throughout Manhattan and in parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Jersey City, scheduling local trips in Battery Park City and the Financial District on weekends. He makes between 15 and 20 deliveries per week, and has cultivated five regular Downtown clients, including Frankly Wines in Tribeca and Joulebody, a diet and cleansing program in Battery Park City.

“It’s convenient – he’s able to do it at any time,” said Joulebody founder and director Yvette Rose, who hires Mossey to deliver three vegan Whole Foods orders per week to customers around Manhattan.

Mossey avoids truckers’ hassles of having to fill up with gas, find street parking and pay costly garage fees. The service is also less costly for customers, who don’t incur fuel and municipal parking fees that would normally be passed on to them.

“It’s kind of a no-brainer,” said Mossey. “With a network of bikeways, I don’t have to sit in traffic anymore.”

Mossey conceived the idea of a cargo bike messenger business while heading Chick Chack, a bike and trucking delivery company based in midtown Manhattan. Mossey vowed never to deliver by truck again after spending nearly an hour one day traveling from Downtown to midtown and getting slammed with a costly parking ticket.

“It was the worst thing in my life – the ticket cancelled out all my profits on the job,” he recalled.

While at Chick Chack, Mossey proceeded to purchase two cargo bikes as an experiment, and quickly realized their advantages over cars. They “alleviated trucking problems and made life easy as far as picking up 50-pound boxes,” he said.

His current service, Mossey said, would prove efficient to Whole Foods and other Downtown shopping marts. Whole Foods Tribeca, at 270 Greenwich Street, is considering hiring Revolution Rickshaws, who Mossey works with, to deliver groceries to their personalized shoppers via cargo bike. But Whole Foods, still in the research phase of its delivery program, must first sort out liabilities and other logistics before signing any contracts.

“We’re entertaining the options and what we can do,” said Steven Marion, Whole Foods Tribeca’s marketing team leader.

On his way to or from a job these days, Mossey makes a slight detour to pick up and drop off his seven-year-old son, Jackson, at his school, P.S. 89. The youngster’s friends and their parents sometimes hitch a ride as well.

“We basically have every contraption in the world to haul him around,” said Mossey of Jackson, who frequently rides with his father in his cargo bike.

Mossey would eventually like to turn his small business into a company with five or 10 cargo bikers that focus on Lower Manhattan deliveries.

“The harder I work,” he said of his job, “the better I feel.”

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