Credit: Timothy Hughes

SCRAM! Couriers, , SCRAM! Couriers

Established in 2000 by Jillian Corbett and guided since 2004 by Rick Cathcart, Madison's SCRAM! bicycle-courier service provides an alternative to fossil-fueled rivals like cab companies and branded truck fleets. In withering heat, driving rain, white-out blizzards and daunting wind chills, SCRAM! delivers documents and parcels year-round, often on tight deadlines.

"At the core of what we do is the concept of sustainable transport," says Cathcart, emphasizing minimum "ecological and societal" impact.

Dispatched from its offices at 16 N. Carroll, the firm's five couriers are drilled in safety, traffic laws, business etiquette and low-impact principles. Starting at $4.50 for regular deliveries near the Capitol Square, prices climb to $18.50 for express service spanning seven zones throughout the city, with customized quotes for deliveries beyond the firm's core service area.

SCRAM! has built a client base among local design and legal firms, as well as working for state and federal agencies here.

The recent economic downturn and shifts from paper to electronic documents have changed the bicycle-courier world. Bike couriers remain commonplace in New York and other big cities that have matured around centralized business districts, Cathcart notes, but in lower-density Madison it's easier to overlook the SCRAM! option despite the city's bike-friendly reputation.

"One of the main challenges we face is convincing potential clients here in Madison that moving their items around by bicycle is a viable way of doing it," observes Cathcart, who took his B.S. in psychology from the UW and considered law school before opting for a two-wheeled career.

From documents to gifts to flowers to "large items with unusual shapes," Cathcart says, a lot rides on the speedy delivery of a courier's cargo. Depending on distance, route, traffic conditions and weather, he claims, SCRAM! couriers often enjoy an efficiency advantage over deliveries by motor vehicle.

"We have," Cathcart says, "a little more freedom built in."

- David Medaris