Blog: Aaron Kluza

A native Metro-Detroiter, Aaron Kluza is the co-owner and co-operator or Rock Dove Couriers, a bicycle messenger company in downtown Detroit. He'll be writing about Detroit --opportunites and challenges-- from a cyclist's perspective. See if you can keep up.

Post No. 1

So it's finally here, the dreaded four-dollar gallon of gas. Lucky for me, I fill my tank maybe once a month. How do I manage such gas efficiency? Lucky for you, I'm going to tell you.

I spend my days downtown on a bicycle. You may have seen me speeding up Cass, loitering in the Guardian Building, or relaxing with a book in Campus Martius. I am one of the few Detroit bicycle messengers. I work for a company called Rock Dove Couriers.

Rock Dove operates as a collective, meaning all of the employees also have an owning interest in the operation. As a worker-owned cooperative, each of us has a vested interest in getting the job done correctly and on time. At Rock Dove, we believe that a sign of a thriving economic community is a thriving messenger community. We find that many firms don't have access to a variety of delivery options, and we offer an alternative. We also know bike messengers are the fastest way to get a physical object from one side of the city to another. That being said, there are only four messengers on the streets of Detroit these days. 

Life as a messenger can be both exciting and frustrating. On one hand, I spend my days basking in the sun while many others are cooped up in an office. Conversely, the past winter was brutal and riding in the snow can be dangerous. I also have no need for a gym membership as I exercise for a living, but the time I spend on the street leaves me filthy as a Frenchman from the unavoidable grime and constant sweating. I am my own boss, but one misjudgment near a DDOT bus could prove fatal.  Regardless, I love what I do and I feel that it's rare to be able to express that sentiment about a job.

I know my profession is a new idea in Detroit. I field questions daily as I rush in and out of buildings, up and down elevators, and through the doors of many offices. Let me offer a sampling:

Q: Are you a bike courier?
A: Yes.
Q: Like in New York?
A: Yes, and Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, and a host of other big cities throughout the world.
Q: What happens when it rains?
A: I get wet.
Q: So you ride a bike everywhere?
A: Yes.
Q: Really?
A: Yes.
Q: I didn't know there were messengers in Detroit.
A: That's not a question.

This is only a small selection of the queries I get, proving to me that there is a formidable amount of curiosity surrounding my daily loops around downtown, and I certainly wish the interest transpired into more business.

Not to say that I'm all doom and gloom in my assessment of Detroit. I have experience in Philadelphia as a messenger, and never in my wildest dreams did I think I could make a living doing the same thing in Detroit. I have hopes that Rock Dove is helping the onset of another rebirth in the downtown area. My megalomania aside, I am neither amassing some sort of Trump-like fortune, nor will Rock Dove be publicly traded on the stock market in the foreseeable future.

So what's the big deal about Rock Dove? Mainly, we are offering exposure to something new, and we're offering our clients and prospective clients a chance to be a part of it. We serve all sizes and shapes of businesses - from large firms like Plunkett Cooney to smaller offices like Miller Cohen. Additionally, as residents of the city or the metro area; we are all concerned with the conditions of Detroit. Yes, we are trying to make a buck for ourselves, but we are also looking to make the city better for both residents of the city and the surrounding metro area.