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Can your takeaway food delivery change how cities are shaped?

Some people might remember when ‘takeaway food delivery’ meant tepid pizza brought to your home by a teenager trying to earn extra income, often using the family car.  Since then the food delivery menu has expanded, and so has dinner on demand.

Pizza delivery driver opening boot of car

Dinners on Demand

Statistica estimates the Australian online food delivery revenue in 2019 at USD$1.68M (AUD$2.46M), with a year on year growth of 14% and 7.1M customers using food delivery services. 

According to a 2019 Queensland University of Technology study NSW has more ‘on demand workers’ than any other Australian state.

As a result, with this much demand, our cities couldn’t return to takeaway delivery by car. That is to say, clogged road space would ensure cold dinners and hungry customers would give up. 

Instead we have seen deliveries transformed by people riding motorbikes, scooters and bicycles.

Whether direct employees or contractors, we have seen a range of issues arise with this new way of delivering dinner on demand food, from low pay and poor conditions, footpath riding, couriers following navigation apps meant for cars and breaking the law, to fatality crashes. 

But have you ever stopped to think about the route from your house to the restaurant you just ordered food from? 

How fast could you travel the journey by bike?  What route would you take? Would you actually feel safe and comfortable riding this route at the time of night you order dinner?  Would it be faster by car? Could you park at either end?

Food delivery rider in dedicated bicycle lane

Food Delivery Company Perspectives

At the 2019 International Cycling Safety Conference we heard industry perspectives from UberEats, Deliveroo and Dominos. 

The presentations focussed on the benefits of offering choice and flexibility to workers, but our road infrastructure creates an unsafe work environment for most of them.

Whether or not you agree with the ‘contractor’ model that skips minimum wage, avoids holiday or sick pay and ignores WH&S responsibilities, many areas in NSW are seeing more bike riding because of these delivery services.  This creates an excellent opportunity to join food delivery companies in advocating for better routes.

“When we look at the routes between most popular restaurants and where people live they’re often unpleasant and unsafe, or even require law-breaking to reach a destination,” said General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace.

“If you enjoy takeaway food, or appreciate that it’s part of business success for the restaurants you enjoy, why not ask your local council what can be done to make routes safer for workers on bikes,” said Bastien.

Across NSW loading zones, car-share parking, bus stops and taxi zones have been put in place on roads to enable businesses to operate safely and deliver the services we need.

Food delivery by bike offers a low carbon, congestion-busting solution to delivery by car, and asking for safe riding space for these workers could help all of us enjoy more journeys on 2 wheels.

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