Experience the Emerald
Part I: Delivery
Editor’s note: I have a particular affinity for the delivery crew after I shadowed my roommate, Chris Pollard, on his early-morning route last April. I rode a Raleigh mountain bike, while he hauled about 100 pounds of papers in the reclined trihauler. We had opposite schedules: I would end my day around 2 a.m. after leaving the newsroom, and he would start his at 5 a.m. This ode to the delivery crew is the first in a series of features about each of the Oregon Daily Emerald’s student-staffed departments.
Biking down East 13th Avenue at 6 a.m., it seems impossible that in just two hours the tranquility of campus will dissolve into a frenzy of bikes and pedestrians.
But long before campus wakes, the Oregon Daily Emerald’s all-bicycle delivery team distributes the paper the same way it gets produced — by students. Working from about 6 to 8 a.m. most weekdays isn’t for everyone, but it’s how the Emerald delivery crew starts its day.
“Riding a bike 15 minutes after waking up is like a big cup of caffeine for me,” delivery crew-member Kyle Scott said. “Surprisingly, it has never drained me of energy for the rest of the day.”
A four-person crew has the daunting task of biking around town each weekday morning to deliver 6,000 copies of the Emerald to 77 locations on- and off-campus — all with human power and all in two hours.
As Emerald business manager and distribution coordinator, Kathy Carbone’s goal is to make sure readers get the paper each morning.
“Getting the paper out by 7:45, when people are coming to work, makes a big difference,” Carbone said. “If people don’t pick it up as part of their morning routine, perhaps they just don’t get back to it during the day.”
Eight University students — Herson Duarte, Richard Griscom, Nick Olson, Nick Rice, Kyle Scott, Cameron Vranizan and Madyson Zetterberg — split the week’s 20 routes, with four routes each morning. Two are on campus, one downtown and one over the river via Franklin Boulevard.
Carbone said avid bikers, or those training for a long bike ride, are most likely to want to deliver the paper and are dedicated to getting the job done in the two hours allotted.
“What else is going to motivate you to get up in the cold, in the dark at 6 o’clock in the morning unless you love biking,” Carbone said.
And she’s had some pretty interesting people take this job since delivery moved completely to bike in 2009.
One student who was preparing to bike to South America helped jumpstart the all-bike delivery, but instead of carrying children like his trailer was designed for, the trailer carted newspapers.
She also had a couple with their own trailer who delivered during spring and summer 2008.
And a computer science graduate student used the job to jumpstart his research. It motivated him to get up each morning and go to the library at 8 a.m. after he was done delivering the paper.
The Emerald’s bicycle delivery and the UO Bike Program practically grew up together, as the Emerald was the Bike Program’s pilot program for providing maintenance and service to campus departments.
Carbone began partnering with the UO Bike Program in 2008 when she started the bike delivery program, and she said the program’s support has been incredible.
The Emerald pays $250 per term for maintenance to its custom Tri-Hauler, built with a waterproof metal box specially built for holding newspapers, and its three other bikes and trailers, as well as emergency roadside assistance.
Dave Villalobos, UO Outdoor Program trip facility manager, said he would like to see more campus departments take advantage of the Bike Program.
“We want to grow and advocate and support as many programs and organizations on campus as want to transfer and work more from a bicycle standpoint or bicycle delivery or whatever it is,” Villalobos said.
That relationship with the Bike Program has greatly helped the Emerald delivery crew’s next endeavor: replacing its outdated trailers with three Xtracycle FreeRadicals.
The Emerald’s current trailers prove problematic for the delivery staff because they flip easily, break down easily and greatly slow down the early-morning process.
“The trailers kept tipping over and breaking down, and they became more expensive to repair than what they’re actually worth,” Carbone said.
With the Xtracycle, there would be no trailer behind the bike, and the papers would be transported in custom-built, waterproof aluminum containers, which would make delivery less cumbersome in the rain.
The Outdoor Program helped negotiate wholesale pricing to bring the total cost of the project from $4,100 to $2,600 and brought in support from local businesses.
Eddie Out in Junction City will make the custom aluminum boxes, and Arriving by Bike will provide the Xtracycle kits. The Bike Program will donate the three delivery bikes.
“We decided it would be nice to provide an opportunity for a local shop to support this,” Villalobos said. “So instead of going to the company Xtracycle, we thought we would provide some revenue for a local shop and bolster that relationship.”
The Emerald has been delivered completely by bike since 2009. Carbone had the idea to go green, and when a student in 2007 made that possible by providing his own trailer, she went for it.
In 2008, bike delivery started with three cheap build-your-own trailers. One person still drove while the Emerald waited for its custom Tri-Hauler, which cost $2,100 and took the Center for Appropriate Transport six months to build.
Carbone says bike delivery actually works better than driving.
“It’s sustainable, it saves money, and it’s actually more efficient,” Carbone said.
Aside from the rain and early hours, those dedicated enough to deliver the Emerald make it part of their day.
“The main reason I enjoy this job is because I get paid to exercise routinely,” Scott said. “I like that it wakes me up and makes me feel productive very early. And the sunrise from the Autzen Footbridge is a great bonus on clear mornings.”