Last month on the road.cc Podcast, we interviewed British ultra-distance cycling legend – and food delivery rider – Steve Abraham, who shared some rather scathing thoughts about Deliveroo and the online company’s relationship with its riders.
Steve, who works as a food courier in Milton Keynes, discussed with road.cc editor Jack the advantages and drawbacks of delivering for firms such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, where drivers and riders are engaged as independent contractors and paid by the number of jobs they do, rather than being taken on as employees, with all the benefits that would entail, such as a minimum wage and holiday and sick pay.
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“If you want to work for a good company and have a good, steady income… don’t work for Deliveroo,” Steve said.
“Deliveroo and all the app companies, they’re rotten, dirty businesses. They’re out to make money by sitting around doing nothing, that’s what they are. Alright, they’re technology people, that’s just written a computer programme to make money for them, that’s the whole idea.
“And you’re just collateral – they need you to operate, if you stop working, they don’t care about you. They’re not looking out for you. They pretend to, but they don’t care about you. They’re not good companies to work for… I just like the job.”
Another issue associated with delivering food by bike for massive app-based companies not mentioned by Steve is the pressure placed on cyclists to make money by completing as many deliveries as possible in one shift.
This pressure, according to one Edinburgh-based Deliveroo rider, can result in couriers breaking several traffic laws, such as jumping red lights and riding on pavements (or, as we’ve seen plenty of times on road.cc, riding on the motorway), just to make ends meet.
“I do not have any issue with laws, and as a recreational club cyclist, I feel some obligation to not give cyclists a bad name and fuel anti-cyclist attitudes held by many motorists. Riding for Deliveroo, I have the opposite mindset,” the cyclist told the Scotsman.
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“If every road law was to be followed, it could easily add five minutes to a delivery, which would cut my income by 20 percent.
“My normal ‘Roo’ daytime income averages £10-12 per hour. To reduce that by 20 percent is therefore not realistic. Most Roo cyclists will, like me, not follow all road laws.
“A delivery rider will have a different attitude to the rules from a recreational cyclist. I don’t think most care about the law or what anyone else’s opinion of their cycling is. In 99 percent of breaches, no third party suffers any kind of inconvenience.”
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The cyclist continued: “Running a red light can be exceptionally dangerous, particularly taking an amber gamble just as lights are changing to red. There are, however, numerous times when there are no cars in sight and riding through a red light is safe and has zero effect on any other party. If the light is on the green man and there are no pedestrians, there is again no impact on anyone.
“Other than being safer than riding up a one-way street the wrong way, I will use the pavement to avoid cobbles, especially when wet. Cobbles in many parts of Edinburgh are not properly maintained, very uneven and rather unsafe.
“Breaking a lot of rules will, I have no doubt at all, be a safer alternative. It will enable distances to be shortened and some major busy and dangerous junctions avoided all together. The downside would be the rider may put themselves at more risk.
“If the police were able to force delivery riders to follow every rule, many I imagine would pack it in.”