A food delivery company has been accused of putting its cycle delivery workers at risk by not providing them with adequate training or bike lights for deliveries made outside of daylight hours.
After a number of complaints made to Deliveroo's social media pages, reporting its riders looking unsteady on their mounts and cycling without lights at night time, concerned members of the public demanded Deliveroo act.
In response Deliveroo, whose freelance cyclists and drivers deliver takeaway food from a variety of restaurants, says lights and helmets for its riders are "on their way" but says riders, who are all freelance, can also choose the shifts they work.
Donnachadh McCarthy, co-founder of Stop Killing Cyclists has echoed general concerns voiced about the safety of Deliveroo's riders.
He told road.cc: "Whilst we welcome companies like Deliveroo using cycling for local deliveries, it is important that they take their employer's duties to their delivery staff seriously and ensure that they are all properly trained in how to cycle safely on our busy roads and to ensure that they are equipped with road-worthy bikes and safety-lights."
Just seen a @deliveroo cyclist in the dark, no lights and listening to his headphones. Dangerous. Surely against company policy?
— Ben Fletcher (@BenFletch) November 4, 2015
On an advertisement for new freelance delivery cyclists (pictured below), paid £7 per hour plus tips, the company asks for candidates who "own a bike and love cycling", but it doesn't request specific cycle qualifications, only the fitness and confidence to ride on the roads. Among "full equipment" offered with the job, the advert only lists "rack, branded waterproof clothing, mobile case and battery pack", but not lights.
While Deliveroo's listing mentions its riders get a "basic training session and trial shift with an experienced cyclist" David Dansky, Head of Training and Development at Cycle Training UK, told road.cc without professional training new delivery riders could simply be picking up other riders' bad habits.
Dansky said: "It seems to me that [Deliveroo] do some kind of buddy riding with an experienced rider. Experienced means that they have had a lot of hours in the saddle but they might have bad habits that they adhere to.
"Many Deliveroo riders, like many riders who haven't been trained, do things like trying to get ahead of traffic by squeezing through gaps between vehicles. I presume they don't know the risks, but I suppose if you are riding with a company logo there are a minimum of standards you should adhere to, including following the Highway Code.
"I would recommend that they train cycle instructors in house, but they should be training people to level 3 of the national standard for cycle training as many cycle companies do".
Dansky pointed out that as all Deliveroo riders are freelance, providing training could put them in the category of employee, but that instead the company could instead ask for a Level 3 Bikeability qualification of all staff who apply for jobs with them.
@Deliveroo just seen another one go past Jamaica Wharf - pedal bike - no helmet, no lights, pitch black. Accident waiting to happen.
— William Reeve (@wreeve) November 4, 2015
In response to concerns Deliveroo spokesperson told road.cc it takes the safety of its cyclist community very seriously, "constantly looking for ways to improve it and provide the training and kit necessary to stay safe on the road".
The spokesperson said: "To date, safety procedures have been a big part of induction for cyclists, including a basic training session and trial shift with an experienced cyclist to assess safety on the road. Cyclists are free to choose the shifts they want without the pressure of specific speed or time targets tied to deliveries."
"Lights and helmets are on their way and will be made available to any of our cyclists who don’t already have them. We’ve sent email and text reminders to our cyclist community reminding them of how to stay safe."
However the company has been unable to provide a date for the delivery of lights to all its riders.
— Natalie Steed (@bawdynan) November 5, 2015
— Jules (@Julessn) November 7, 2015