I haven’t been on here much lately, and when I have I’ve been rather short.(And offend not a few people.) The main reason for that is that I’ve been on the front lines of the public health aspect of this crisis here in NYC and i can tell you it isn’t looking great. I have a day job that’s funded by the city and I’ll continue to get a check through July at least. I also do delivery for a wine shop here in Brooklyn that treats us better than any other delivery riders I know of. I’m one of the lucky ones, but I’m going to tell you about some of the folks who aren’t as lucky as I am.
Delivery riders have always been the bottom of the ladder.
A whopping 62 percent of working cyclists interviewed in a 2017 survey by the Biking Public Project said that they had been involved in a motor-vehicle collision at least once, and an average of 30 percent said they had missed work because of work-related injuries in the last year.
For comparison, the New York State’s Department of Labor said that only 1.5 of 100 full-time workers missed work because of work-related injuries in New York in 2017; the national Bureau of Labor and Statistics calculated that .9 per hundred full-time workers had missed work for injuries in that year.
During this crisis we’ve seen a lot of focus on “essential workers” and heard a lot about treating them better, giving them sick time, better wages, etc. Very rarely is “delivery rider” included in the list of essential workers when people say these things, including here in NYC — a city that thrives on delivery. In fact, the city has finally suspended the racist crackdown on delivery cyclists after years of targeting the poorest and least powerful people in the city. These delivery cyclists are overwhelmingly immigrants, mostly Chinese or Spanish speaking, and often are undocumented.
None of the bills put forward at the state or federal level will help them. More than that, the city has done nothing to help these delivery people in terms of safety gear. This should concern people not just because delivery people deserve protection from COVID 19, but also because it presents a potential public health problem.
We are going to people’s homes and dropping off food and present a potential transmission vector that seems to have been almost entirely ignored. Today's Brian Lehrer show talked about it some, and I’m incredibly thankful for that, but, as with all of the apps, it is inevitably discussed as an issue of personal responsibility on the part of the rider and not as in issue of public health. But it is a public health issue. I’m a public health issue, as we all are.
That’s all well and good, but what are we to do?
Well, for now what I’m doing is raising funds to buy supplies and print information in languages other than English for delivery workers. Because I have the option I will probably stop doing delivery work sooner rather than later but there are a lot of people, including good friends of mine, who don’t have that option. They also don’t have a mask and have limited access to hand sanitizer.
I know a lot is going on right now, but if you can help please go donate at the link below. I now have a source for masks and will be purchasing my first round this week with the money I’ve raised so far. The masks will be distributed by members of the bike community who have the time on cargo bikes. We’ve identified intersections where app riders congregate between deliveries to target for supplies.
I thank you ahead of time for your support and I hope you all are safe and healthy, and that you are tipping well if you are getting delivery.