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Deliveroo riders' union in call for city centre cycle lane as part of "much-needed change" to support bicycle journeys

"By backing this cycle lane, we are securing a new deal for cyclists in York, safety, efficiency, convenience, and quality of life"...

A union for Deliveroo riders has launched a campaign to demand "much-needed change" to improve cycling in York with a new city centre cycle lane.

York Mix first spotted the petition that has been set up by GMB, the union for Deliveroo couriers, with the support of riders. GMB reps and workers have also met with City of York Council's transport lead to communicate their desire to see action taken to make the city more cycling-friendly to support couriers and the wider bicycle-riding community.

The action comes as the council has invited public opinion on policy as part of its 'Big Transport Conversation', a consultation ending next week that is asking for residents' views on transport in the North Yorkshire city.

> "You're just collateral" — Ultra-cycling legend Steve Abraham on Deliveroo and the gig economy discussed on the road.cc podcast

GMB's work has been supported by Deliveroo and couriers, the company's director of operations Andy Batty saying it will work "closely" with the union "to call for a new cycle route through York city centre that would not only make it safer for riders, but drive local business growth and help the council meet its ambitious climate objectives".

According to the petition, which has almost met its initial 500-signature target, the idea for a Blake Street to Parliament Street cycle lane was proposed in 2021 by the York Cycle Campaign, with GMB now backing the plan as a way of "uniting to support this much-needed change" and "improving cycling in the city".

"This is our chance to stand together and show the incoming mayor just how much this critical infrastructure is needed. By joining forces, we will demonstrate just how important this is, not just for cyclists but for boosting our local economy, making the streets safer, and giving residents a better shared experience. Let's come together to steer the city towards this critical upgrade mission," it states.

Listing the reasons why the cycle lane would be important for the local community, GMB suggests it would boost the local economy with businesses benefiting from increased traffic to the area through new cycled journeys, as well as promoting active travel as an alternative to car journeys.

Deliveroo_Rider_Taking_The_Lane_In_Bristol_(32611782273)

"As a cost-effective and environmentally responsible form of transportation, cycling may improve accessibility. It can more efficiently connect various areas of the city centre, facilitating people's movement around and access to a range of services," the petition states.

National GMB rep for Deliveroo, Cristian Santabarbara, called the need for a city centre cycle route "critical for couriers' working conditions, safety and wellbeing".

"It would improve delivery times and reduce restaurant food wastage and improve our service delivery of food, groceries and medicines to residents in York. It would remove the looming threat of fines for cyclists, and issues associated with late delivery times for couriers, business and residents. We want the city centre to be accessible and sustainable for everyone."

Last year Cycling Scotland urged food delivery companies to provide couriers "effective training around cycling safety" and check the bikes they ride "are legal and road worthy", the comments coming after a Glasgow cyclist says he had been left "terrified" after a collision involving a courier riding the wrong way along a two-way cycle lane, the police admitting that some couriers are riding bikes that are "absolutely" not legal.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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19 comments

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Mikeonthebike | 4 months ago
0 likes

Reading, Berkshire. 9 out of 10 Deliveroo Riders are a total menace. No lights, dark clothes, traffic rules do not count for them. Many do not even have a chain on their bike-shaped-objects - ride through traffic and pedestrianised zones by button in excess of 30mph. The police does not do their job to stop them.

All to feed obese home-office workers to lazy to go for a walk.

But wait til you hit one with your motor vehicle - then the full force of law descends upon you!

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chrisonabike replied to Mikeonthebike | 4 months ago
2 likes

Mikeonthebike wrote:

... But wait til you hit one with your motor vehicle - then the full force of law descends upon you!

You mean they throw the book at you (the Beano)?

Is that actually true though?  The "full force of the law" appears to be really, really feeble for road offenses in many parts of the UK.  Or rather the outcome when someone drives into a vulnerable road user seems a lottery at best.  We see "police didn't bother bringing charges", "CPS negotiated charges downwards" / "magistrates or judges accepted inconsistent or illogical explanations from the defendent at face value".

BTW if they don't have their (colourful, reflective IIRC) Deliveroo livery how do you know who they work for?

Pretty sure it's mostly on those who have chosen to drive a potentially dangerous vehicle to do the most to avoid damaging others.

I've certainly seen some very stupid stuff done by delivery riders.  I'm not unhappy to have people who're behaving dangerously or antisocially or even breaking the law for (admittedly very little) money sanctioned.  However I suspect that's like trying to stop the trade in drugs by going after the low-level street dealers.  We should definitely be looking higher up the chain (e.g. the food delivery companies as a whole, the supply of "illegal on the roads without a licence or full stop" vehicles like some electric motorbikes) as well.

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NOtotheEU replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
1 like

chrisonabike wrote:

Mikeonthebike wrote:

... But wait til you hit one with your motor vehicle - then the full force of law descends upon you!

Is that actually true though?

Maybe they drove into a police officer riding an e-bike? I can't think of any other situation that would result in this opinion.

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Mamiliv | 4 months ago
3 likes

The main issue is that the majority of delivery ebike riders are not technically cyclists. The ebikes are clearly too powerful/fast to be classed as a cycle. They are therefore "drivers" of vehicles with legal requurements to register/insure/hold licence (and learn how to drive competently). With regards to cycle lanes, where the above is the case those "drivers" cannot use cycle lanes.

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NOtotheEU | 4 months ago
1 like

Let's hope campaigning for this cycle lane is only the start and if Labour win the next election the GMB will use their financial influence to remind Labour how it got it's name.

"Labour has partially rowed back from its policy on boosting rights for those working in the gig economy"

"GMB gives Labour up to £2m a year in affiliation fees and other funds"

 

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mr_pickles2 | 4 months ago
4 likes

Okay, my Daily Mail moment 

Cycle delivery companies need to be foreced to manage thier "employees'" behaviour on the road. 

I cycle around London all the time, and am actually surprised when I see one of these riders obeying the law (be it traffic lights, having lights at night, or – as was the case on Sunday – not undertaking me with millimetres to spare on a modified e-bike).
The worst are the riders with the mega dodgy-looking converted e-bikes with a throttle, usually blasting along at 25-30mph without pedalling. Amazed that I haven't seen one of these either burst into flames or fall apart given how rickety some are.

The whole model incentivises law-breaking to get to customers/restaurants faster; it needs regulating and the companies responsible actually having to look after thier workers.

All that being said, I'm surprised it's taken this long to see delivery riders coming together to demand cycle infrastructure. Good to see GMB helping.

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Mooshcow | 4 months ago
6 likes

As a York DELIVEROO rider (on my non electric gravel bike) this cycle lane is much needed. This is because the council has pedestrianised the entire city centre meaning that it is illegal to cycle on the roads. It is therefore impossible to access the restaurants and deliver orders.

In addition to this, the existing cycle routes are predominantly on major roads and very few of them follow the DfTs guidance.

The streets tend to have fairly low volume of pedestrians (excluding when the Christmas market is on) and therefore it would not be dangerous to have bikes in the centre.

Overall this cycle lane would not just make business better for DELIVEROO but also make the inner city much more accessible and safer for people on bikes.

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andystow replied to Mooshcow | 4 months ago
2 likes

Mooshcow wrote:

As a York DELIVEROO rider (on my non electric gravel bike) this cycle lane is much needed. This is because the council has pedestrianised the entire city centre meaning that it is illegal to cycle on the roads. It is therefore impossible to access the restaurants and deliver orders.

Impossible? Or a five minute walk?

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Mooshcow replied to andystow | 4 months ago
3 likes

Per order, 20 minutes of walking (at least 10 each way to restaurant). If you do say 20 orders per day, that's a lot of time spent walking. It is IMPOSSIBLE to access the restaurants on bikes.

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chrisonabike replied to Mooshcow | 4 months ago
1 like

Understand this.  But while not wanting to bash the "employees not employees" at the bottom several wrongs* don't make a right.

As usual if (a big if...) we actually considered what we wanted from transport / delivery / freight / "recreation" (including shopping and dining) I suspect we would end up with a very different model for transport and services.  York is in a minority as a small historic city with "narrow streets" (and indeed walls!) and a large tourist economy.

There is definitely a debate to be had and indeed even in countries with excellent active travel infra they are still working out what is a sensible balance given what some delivery companies are seeking to provide.

It was a while since I last visited York and while I could see changes since I lived there there is a ton of scope for the local authority to get off its backside and capitalise on what should be excellent conditions for promoting cycling (mostly flat, small size, "narrow streets", student population, tourist destination, an inheritence of some former railway lines etc.)

* These companies' entire business model!  Facilitating some less healthy behaviour and questionable "needs" by some consumers ("I click on it and it arrives at my door in minutes" - although there are certainly some more understandable use-cases here).  Making large pedestrian-only zones with no consideration for cycling access - of course not because "bad cyclists" but because the real problem is unpleasant motor traffic everywhere else.

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wycombewheeler replied to Mooshcow | 4 months ago
0 likes

Mooshcow wrote:

Per order, 20 minutes of walking (at least 10 each way to restaurant). If you do say 20 orders per day, that's a lot of time spent walking. It is IMPOSSIBLE to access the restaurants on bikes.

and more delays/colder food for the customer also

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HLaB replied to andystow | 4 months ago
0 likes

I'm definitely not a Deliveroo rider but I suspect a 5-10min walk isn't an option. Whilst I reckon young fit folks like them could manage their loads, leaving their bikes at the mercy of thieves isn't practical neither is a massive lock for them and their gig economy doesn't allow time for it anyway.

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quiff replied to HLaB | 4 months ago
2 likes

HLaB wrote:

I'm definitely not a Deliveroo rider but I suspect a 5-10min walk isn't an option. Whilst I reckon young fit folks like them could manage their loads, leaving their bikes at the mercy of thieves isn't practical neither is a massive lock for them and their gig economy doesn't allow time for it anyway.

I think the suggestion was to walk the bike through the pedestrian zone to the restaurant - so it wouldn't be any more at the mercy of thieves than now. But no, the time might not be viable the way the model works.  

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mctrials23 | 4 months ago
8 likes

If deliveroo want to make life safer for their riders they need to do something about the way they ride their bikes. When you are incentivised to be as fast as possible to earn a basic living wage the rules of the road suddenly become a lot less of a worry. 

The number of them around here that just fly out of side roads, have illegal throttle operated bikes and generally cause carnage is quite impressive. 

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chrisonabike replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
6 likes

As I see it no credits for the company.  This appears to be them simply calculating "something is being done by someone else (the GMB union) which might benefit our business.  If we give it the nod it might even benefit our reputation (as 'supporting our partner contractors').  No skin off our nose."

Of course I'm apt to be cynical as I question the entire business model of these businesses.  I know the delivery sector is cut-throat and has been a bit of a "grey area" for time, the less formal parts the more so.  However the business model of these food delivery companies seems to be based on outsourcing risk, employee support and other side-effects onto the general public / the taxman, while racing each other to the bottom on pay / employee rights.

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brooksby replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
4 likes

mctrials23 wrote:

… have illegal throttle operated bikes …

That there is the Thing.

Does a Deliveroo 'contractor' - definitely not an employee, honest, guv! - need a cycle lane when they can zip around at 20-30mph without having to pedal?  All a cycle lane will do for them, surely, is allow them to intimidate the people riding around on bikes which aren't battery powered.

I don't know about "generally cause carnage", and suspect that might be hyperbole  3

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mctrials23 replied to brooksby | 4 months ago
1 like

Carnage is perhaps a little strong for what they cause but they are a nightmare at times. The thing that is most annoying is perhaps that they are lumped together with other cyclists and used as an example to bash us all. 

And no, they don't need cycle lanes beyond the fact they are on bikes and don't wear the same protective gear someone on a scooter might. 

At the risk of sounding very daily mail, they also have no identifying numberplate on throttle operated bikes making them answerable to no man. cheeky

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chrisonabike replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
2 likes

Not a fan of illegal electric motorbikes, however (for worse) they are also vulnerable road users, albeit they've made a somewhat antisocial choice (though not as much as many who drive without due care...)

mctrials23 wrote:

At the risk of sounding very daily mail, they also have no identifying numberplate on throttle operated bikes making them answerable to no man.

Just wait until you hear about cars!  ("We can't prove who was driving.  We did approach the registered keeper but they a) said they didn't know (being a hire company / a bus company / any company) or b) said their plates had been cloned or c) this is Scotland so they just said they didn't recall that.  We have therefore let the matter drop.")

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mattw | 4 months ago
2 likes

This York consultation is quite important.

I contributed to a relalted submission in defence of bus stop bypasses.

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