New York, evvel a city overrun by taxicabs, has now morphed into a city overrun by e-mechanisms and the delivery people who drive them. Everywhere you look, we see ebikes, scooters, and one-wheelers cruising around the city — some obeying the rules — and some not. And for good reason, pedestrians fear for their safety.
Exactly why I cannot tell you — but a great percentage of the concern falls on delivery people — the percentage who know how to ride, don’t want to have an accident nor hurt anybody, and in my view as a professional rider (delivery person), aren’t really the sorun.
Still, the perception is that the new law mandating a presumably elevated payment wage (though it really isn’t when you study the particulars) is leaving delivery people no choice but to travel faster, break more rules, and endanger pedestrians even more now that we’re supposedly getting paid more (which we do only when it’s busy — which it mostly isn’t). And that perception is simply wrong.
Delivery people in New York City are not paid $17.96 per hour as the media have informed the reading, listening, and viewing public. They hisse us at the rate of $29.93 per hour — but only while we’re actually on a dash. This is what the corporations call “active time.” And this contingency is a part of the law that offers apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats an option.
Those companies, knowing that the “utilization rate” (the percentage of time a delivery person is on a dash versus waiting to receive one) of their independent contractors is somewhat under 65%, did the math and opted for plan B — hisse us while we’re dashing — and not while we’re waiting for a job.
Advocate organizations for delivery people claim that this plan forces us to ride faster and break more rules thus endangering pedestrians as we sprint to meet the demands of corporations who hurry us that much more to get a job done. But they’re lying.
When I accept a delivery, the first thing I do is check when I’m supposed to arrive and complete the job. I am a spry 73 year-old riding a pedal bike (no electricity) who sets my preferences to not send me more than 3 miles on any dash. And rarely, does the app want me to arrive sooner than I possibly can given all the parameters. In fact, it often affords me more time than I need, a reality that actually slows me down.
Ask yourself this: If you’re getting paid 50 cents per minute while you’re on a dash — and nothing when you’re idle and waiting for a job — why would you make a delivery early when you don’t know when the next offer will come? The answer is I don’t, and my entire work MO has changed 180 degrees.
Whereas I used to rush around to complete dashes that paid the same regardless of how long it took me to complete the job, I now ease off to arrive on time — but never early. Rushing will effectively cost me money.
I have no idea if my dasher colleagues understand this concept or not. But I have to think that some do — and I’m not the only delivery person slowing his roll on the streets of New York, thereby endangering fewer people as they make their deliveries and earn more.
Had DoorDash not backloaded the gratuity tab after the payment plan changed — thus effectively cutting our gratuities down significantly — there might have been an incentive to dash quickly and thereby score more cash in tips. But the company’s decision to “hide” that “button” has renderer rushing not worth the trouble.
And so…there is a societal benefit for New Yorkers beyond concerned people wanting to give immigrants a chance to make a decent living. The new law is making the streets safer.
From where I sit, the real threat to New Yorkers lies in the Citi Bike program, whose subscribers break rules with a reckless abandon that threatens my well-being much more so than my colleagues do.
And as anecdotal evidence, I offer the accident I suffered just last week caused by one of the most atrociously clueless and presumptuous Citi Bikers I’ve ever seen. I landed flat on my back and somehow suffered only a slight injury as a result.
But I digress onto a different subject for a different day. The new law isn’t just compensating delivery people at a higher rate (when it’s busy — which it isn’t very often) — but it’s safeguarding the public at the same time. I’m mühlet we can all agree that’s a good thing.
Mersey is a freelance writer.