As the popularity of food deliveries has grown, many of us will have taken advantage of the convenience; but what is it like to be the one making the delivery? This gives a frank account of life in the gig economy, and in particular working for Deliveroo – and how the pleasure of not being tied to regular hours in an office job can outweigh any downsides.
Being paid to ride your bike full-time is not the sole preserve of professional racers: for many years, traditional cycle messengers have been speeding between offices with time-sensitive documents. There have been a few books about these urban warriors, such the excellent What Goes Around by Emily Chappell and Messengers by Julian Sayarer.
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These days it's a related group that is more visible: app-controlled and uniformed riders, often working for international food delivery companies such as Deliveroo. In the first book of its type I have come across, Murphy describes life within such a regime, including the realities of this relatively new way of working.
Murphy promises to share his 'experiences of working in the gig economy as a cycle courier,' and although true, it undersells the book somewhat. There is also a lot of discussion about job satisfaction, diet, and the Deliveroo business model, for example. The presence of seven pages of references reveals this is a much more thoroughly-researched and considered work than I was expecting.
He doesn't really get involved in the debate over worker exploitation, though; the business model works for him at present, but he accepts that it won't be suitable for everyone.
Working during the Covid pandemic adds an extra dimension to the narrative, where many of his customers welcomed 'a little socially-distanced human interaction,' and those making home deliveries were often afforded more respect than usual.
I thought I would be reasonably familiar with the issues of spending all day cycling around town – bad drivers and weather, for instance – but some I didn't expect: for Murphy, wearing bib shorts led to neck and upper back pain, because bibs are not designed for those standing upright much of the day.
I learnt even more about Deliveroo: for example, if a customer fails to take delivery within ten minutes, the deliverers can eat the food themselves – a perk Murphy benefits from quite a lot.
Let's pr E-tend
He also discovers that those with e-bikes are given priority over conventional bikes when work is allocated, on the assumption they'll be quicker; however, you don't actually need to own one to register... 'you just need to submit a photograph of one' and pretend it's yours.
If you plan to work in this area you will find a lot of useful information here, although be aware that there is very little about bikes or actual cycling; what it gives is a better understanding of the life of the person who might have just delivered your takeaway.
If you are tempted but undecided, take note of Murphy's final thoughts: after "two long years as a full-time courier," he was left "mentally and physically exhausted, to the point where I didn't want to cycle any longer."
> 8 of the best urban commuter bikes
I am full of admiration for those who choose to self-publish a book. However, whilst using Amazon for printing can make this much easier than it used to be, in my experience the result normally feels cheap, including rather dull, flimsy covers.
It doesn't make the book any less readable, and this route may be an author's only option – the challenge for me is that the book doesn't cost any less than one from a mainstream publisher with better production values (and some pictures). This is an £11.99 paperback and that, unfortunately, impacts on its value – though not if you buy it in Kindle form, which is cheaper too at £7.99.
Revealing insight into the extremes of life as a Deliveroo delivery rider, if rather cheaply printed
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Make and model: You've Got The Gig 100,000 Miles As A Cycle Courier In The Gig Economy by Ryan Murphy
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From the publisher: "100,000 miles, four years, two amazing cities, one relentless adrenaline and caffeine-fuelled adventure full of thrills, pills, hills, and bellyache. You've Got the Gig! is an all-access, backstage pass to the little-known yet highly controversial world of the gig economy.
"The larger-than-life world of the cycle courier is vastly underreported, yet hundreds, sometimes thousands, of these square-shaped backpack-wearing delivery drivers are the blood in the veins of many city centres across the UK and around the globe, taking food and drink to the hungry masses, like efficient worker ants, every hour of every day.
"Terrified by the prospect of being stuck in the same job for life, and faced with the need for an income while back at uni studying for a change of careers, Ryan Murphy made a break from the 'real world' and set out to do something he loved. After an exhilarating cycle journey around San Francisco, he turned his attention to the one thing in life which had always brought him unbridled joy and adventure.
"But what began as a convenient way of earning a living, and a way to escape exams and essays, ended by showing a new way of life, with many unintended and unbelievable consequences. Unshackled from the traditional employer, able to make his own way in the newly emerging gig economy by working for Deliveroo, Ryan has come up against both the obvious drawbacks and the undeniable benefits of riding your bike for a living, and seen the changing face of a huge and growing sector of the modern economy, from its early growth stage to the crucial role it played in the middle of a global pandemic."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Title: You've Got The Gig!
Author: Ryan Murphy
Publisher: Ryan Murphy
Rate the product for value:
Loses points for the lack of images and the generally cheap feel.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I learnt a lot about a world that was new to me.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not enough information about the cycling aspect of the job.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Reveals a lot about the gig economy in an entertaining fashion, with the cycling being secondary. Feels a bit low quality.
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
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