Velover interview: Mark de Klerk
Last week, we introduced the new training and certification program for Armadillo couriers. Now meet one of the first certified Velovers!
Name: Mark de Klerk
City: Antwerp, Belgium
Riding for: DHL Express
Bike courier since: 2014
Riding Armadillo since: 2017
Velover level: 5
What do you deliver?
Documents and boxes
Why are you a bike courier?
I was already a courier, driving a van for 20 years and I kind of rolled into becoming a bike courier. In 2014 my station manager asked me if I was interested in becoming a bike courier as sort of a test in Antwerp. We started with one bike, a Bullitt cargo bike from Larry vs Harry. In 2015 we visited DHL Utrecht to have a look at the Armadillo that was used there. We tested the bike in Antwerp for a week and were excited. After convincing our SMT (Senior Management team) that it was a great bike things happened fast and now we have 8 Armadillos.
The challenge in trying something new and deliver/pickup documents and boxes while riding a bike in the city also was a trigger to become a bike courier.
What is it like riding a bike in your city?
In Antwerp we have a lot of car traffic and lack of space to park your van. You’d constantly have to calculate the time you needed to get to your next stop and which way you should drive to get there as soon as possible. With the bike it is more simple. When you know it only takes 2 minutes to your next stop, you know it will take 2 minutes today, tomorrow and next week. So the stress of driving in traffic and getting on time totally fades away while riding the Armadillo.
The social contact you get while riding the bike is just fantastic. People smile, children wave, you can talk directly with other bikers or pedestrians. People ask questions about the bike, with the question: “Is it electric?” at number 1, people ask for directions (It sometimes feels like I’m a city guide ;-)).
Customers also like the bike and are often concerned about your wellbeing: in summer “is it not to hot? Do you need a cold drink?” In winter “Are you not cold? Do you want a coffee?" When it rains and they look worried I often respond with “there is no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothes".
Being outside in the open instead of locked behind a car window is so much more satisfying.
The last 2 years there is a modal shift going on in Antwerp or at least they are trying to get more people on a bike instead of using their cars for short distances or for work. More bike lanes are getting build or getting a make over. More and more shopping streets are getting car free. The Armadillo is allowed in those car free zones so you can still stop almost at the door of your customers to do your deliveries.
What is it like riding the Armadillo?
The Armadillo is such a nice bike to ride with, over the years we tested a lot of cargo bikes but the Armadillo is still my number 1. You sit in a comfortable position in front of your box and not behind it like many other cargo bikes. People see you first and then the box. With other cargo bikes people tend to stop when they see you coming.I think it’s a kind of psychological thing. The suspension is just great, even on cobblestones. Steering goes smooth and because it’s only 86 cm wide it fits perfectly on a bike lane.
Are you also an Armadillo courier or a manager in a company with Armadillos? Get certified!