Malaysia’s 1st bike messenger service promotes a greener future

The service prides itself on practising pollution-free deliveries and emphasises strongly on sustainability

by LYDIA NATHAN / source: Velo Express Malaysia

A GREENER last-mile delivery service was what Vélo Express Kuala Lumpur (KL) had in mind when it set out to be Malaysia’s first bicycle messenger service at the end of 2015.

Its co-founder Jordi Arif Rahman said the idea formed after seeing a similar service in Jakarta and Singapore.

He said with impending environment issues like climate change and global warming intensifying, it was one way to reduce carbon footprint in an essential business.

“The other founders and I wanted to give businesses an alternative for this service, and thought, why not start up right here in our city. We also come from cycling backgrounds, so it was a perfect way to make a living through our passion,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in an interview recently.

Vélo Express KL currently has five riders covering KL areas including Bangsar, Brickfields and Sentul, among others, while for areas within the Petaling Jaya district, clients will need to make booking in advance.

“We advise our clients to book an hour before pickups because within the areas that are close to us, our riders can reach the pickup points in less than an hour.”

“Riders do same-day pickups and drop-offs, but items can also be dropped off at our office to be delivered. We aim to be as flexible as possible with our clients,” Jordi Arif said.

He said the service prides itself on practising pollution-free deliveries and emphasises strongly on sustainability.

“There are many practices today that throw the term ‘sustainability’ around too freely without actually keeping to its principles. We want to walk the talk and let people see that through our riders,” he said.

Jordi Arif said when the service was first launched, most of its clients were eco-friendly or green businesses that were using the service due to its similar philosophies.

“But now, more of our clients range from luxury retailers, home-owned businesses, embassies and a range of corporate clients. We do provide two different price point packages to suit the different needs,” he said.

These options include one for corporate clients which are for 20 deliveries. The option has taken off well with offices and businesses.

Prices for deliveries are quoted based on distance, size and weight, and customers are updated upon confirmation and completion with an invoice sent out as well.

However, Jordi Arif said there are limitations with the service as bicycles can only carry a certain amount of weight.

“Due to the nature of the deliveries, we have limitations. For instance, fragile items like cakes or goods made of glass can be quite tricky. Initially, our riders could only carry items up to 10kg, but thanks to our collaboration with The Basikal, we now have cargo bicycles that can carry items up to 100kg,” he said.

He explained that The Basikal is made up of a few businesses that often collaborate, support and rely on each other for resources, ideas and expertise.

“There are a few businesses involved in this little ecosystem, like the Dropbar Coffee which serves freshly brewed drinks and Kombucha. We also serve meals from the 60-year-old Kopitiam Sang Wot next door,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jordi Arif said when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the Movement Control Order (MCO) was put in place, the service was accelerated and things began moving quickly.

“We did not halt operations during the MCO. Instead, we extended our marketing online and gained more partnerships over the course of that period. Operations went on as usual and we helped customers get their errands done and groceries delivered,” Jordi Arif said.

Moving forward, he hopes to see the service grow but with an added aspect of safety for its riders by taking cues from other delivery businesses.

“We want to prioritise the welfare of our team while keeping to our standards. We are also looking to network with more partners who share the same goals.

“We also want to provide more jobs and training to folks who are interested in making cycling a part of their daily commute,” he said.

Jordi Arif added that one of their long-term goals includes expansion to other cities.

“We aim to look at venturing into cities like Penang, Johor Baru and Melaka, while bringing awareness to people that will help shift perceptions of bicycle couriers in Malaysia.

“To us, it is not just a job but a passion, coupled with a love for Mother Nature,” he concluded.