Protecting bike messengers and deliverymen

In Saturday’s Times, Hilary Stout shows us that bike messengers serve as pawns in the war between e-commerce giants eBay and Amazon.com. For $5 on eBay Now, for example, you can have someone else purchase and deliver your necessities – often within an hour.

Curiously omitted is how much couriers make for their efforts – and for the risks they take on rushing to squeeze in a few extra deliveries.

This provides a good segue to talk about something that hasn’t been pertinent for several months, but might soon be again: getting food delivered during a blizzard. It’s time to change how we as a city approach this.

I can think of few things more selfish than making some poor soul bike (or drive) with zero visibility through slop while cars fishtail all around him – all so you can have some General Tso’s chicken without getting out of your pajamas.

Park Slope the day after a storm last February.

Would you let your kids – or yourself – ride a bike in this? And this is the day after a storm!

Left to its own devices, this system will remain unchanged.

Customers will continue to do this because this is New York City! Everything should be at my fingertips!

Owners will continue to do this because they’ll lose revenue if they don’t; customers will give their money a place that delivers.

Deliverymen will continue to do this because they won’t get paid if they refuse to work.

Here’s a form of legislation I’d love to see the city enact before the next snowstorm: institute a huge fee for deliveries when travel restrictions are in effect. If the average person shouldn’t be on the roads, why should deliverymen?

This fee will go into a city-wide pool. Most of that money will be used to provide compensation for deliverymen who are unable to work during the blizzard; the rest can be used for other storm-related costs.

I’ll leave it to the policy professionals to figure out the price point. $10? $20? High enough to dissuade most people from ordering delivery, but low enough to make delivery available for those who really need want it – and to ensure enough money gets into the pool.

I know there might not be a good price point for this. Our focus still must remain on protecting some of the most vulnerable people in our city: those who can’t say no to hitting the roads when any rational New Yorker would be inside.

I welcome your comments.

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4 Responses to Protecting bike messengers and deliverymen

  1. But I don’t think the guy bringing me my dinner and Fresh Direct are the same thing.

  2. Enil says:

    Your solution treats the symptom and not the cause.

    • Keith Williams says:

      I agree. But I should point out this was written when Bloomberg was mayor, and under him addressing the cause was unthinkable.

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