A day in the life of a Charlotte bike messenger | CLT Blog
A day in the life of a Charlotte bike messenger

A day in the life of a Charlotte bike messenger

Posted on 4 Aug 2009 by James Willamor

Charlotte bicycle messenger Bill Fehr

photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr

The city is more real when viewed from the seat of a bicycle. It is raw and in your face, visceral and sensual. It is not so much the impact of the scenery and sounds whizzing by, but the smells that really hit you. Passing through neighborhoods entering Uptown it is the scent of charcoal briquettes, fabric softener, and the occasional hint of marijuana. Traversing the Uptown streets, it is the smell of perfume and latte, sewer and sweets, sweat and body odor other than your own. The city becomes a strange new place when you travel it outside the gated community of your automobile, with no glass and steel cage separating you from the world outside.

Bill Fehr is an eleven year veteran of Charlotte’s small bicycle messenger scene. He is also a local blogger who often writes about his encounters on the streets of Charlotte, including the stories of locals such as David Ray Chisholm and Marlo Chapman.

I recently hopped onto my bicycle and spent a day following Bill around to find out what is like to be a bike messenger.  We talk about the evolution of Charlotte’s bicycle culture, smelly possums, and the daily experience of the city from the seat of a bike.

Video after the break:

video: James Willamor; view this video on Vimeo

Charlotte bicycle messenger Bill Fehr

photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr


  1. Andria Krewson 4 Aug 2009 at 11:27 AM

    Thanks, James, for a great video. This guy rides through my neighborhood, and I suspect he loves the greenway connecting my ‘hood to Plaza Midwood.
    And I’m impressed that you rode along with him.

  2. Seth 4 Aug 2009 at 11:31 AM

    B-roll baby. Makes the interview so much easier to watch.

  3. Kevin 5 Aug 2009 at 11:00 PM

    Long story short
    The Critical Mass we put on was in December 1999. Not 2001. Sorry Bill It was all over the news and in the papers. Our first critical mass brought out well over 60 people. Ages 12 to 65
    As a messenger in the little big city of charlotte. My self and two others took matters in to our own hands. One guy from another messenger company and another guy from FUNB out at the CIC. No one up top was willing to listen to what we had to say. So one day after work, sitting in the irish pub on 5th street, a plan came together. We flyered every bike shoppe in town. None of which were in support of our plan to CM. In fear that it may hurt their pocket books. We flyered every car with a bike rack on it and anyone on a bike. The cops were tweeked. They were trying to pin it on one person. They wanted it shut down! They got wind that I was apart of it and asked me to sit down with them. I agreed. From the top it was good cop/bad cop. After i had enough of their head games, I walked out of their station. I told them it was a critical mass, not a critical me. They told me i had to have a permit to protest. I told them that we were traffic too and that this ride will happen.
    For the Charlotte,NC history books.

  4. Scott Lundgren 6 Aug 2009 at 7:53 PM

    That was really informative and well shot. Here’s a similar interview by KRON in San Francisco of 1992: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz0NRNudFXA

  5. Steve Sherron 9 Aug 2009 at 12:15 PM

    That was a great video story. I really enjoyed that. Good work. You just can’t get stories like this anywhere else.

  6. Pamela Murray 1 Sep 2009 at 9:46 PM

    Great video. I really enjoyed it. Keep up the great work.

  7. Timothy 29 Apr 2012 at 3:58 AM

    Fantastic! You seem to love what you are doing and are great at it. Keep it up!