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October is National Safe Work Month and new regulation has been proposed for the food delivery industry. But, sadly, it is evident that a lot is missing.

Over the past two years we have worked with MP’s, SafeWork and the Joint Taskforce: Food Delivery Rider Safety on safety issues, because food delivery riders face the same challenges we all do in NSW.  They ride from homes to shops and restaurants in the same neighbourhoods as many of our members, but often do so at night, in poor weather conditions and under time pressures.  These bike-based workers have become the conspicuous ‘canary in the coal-mine’ for road safety issues that have been ignored for generations.

Food delivery bike rider on road at night

 

The top causes of injury for food delivery riders identified on the SafeWork website were:

  • vehicular collisions
  • road hazards
  • unsafe and/or incorrect use of bicycles and e-bikes
  • use of unsuitable equipment
  • abuse or assault by a member of the public

New industry regulations

We were disappointed that the Joint Taskforce: Food Delivery Rider Safety report ignored critical issues like poor riding infrastructure and the safety behaviour of other road users. It focused instead on things that will not change the outcome when a car hits a rider. For example hi vis, unsafe footwear, or wearing a cap under a helmet. Proposed new industry regulations will require high visibility clothing and bags, training for riders and the carrying of an identifying number.  Unfortunately no minimum standards are proposed for the rider training courses.

Close passing

It is difficult to identify how changing the clothing a bike rider wears will have any impact on road hazards. Or abuse by members of the public, or how it will save the lives of riders hit by cars, buses or trucks. This proposed regulation also neglects the real risk posed when drivers fail to comply with close passing laws.  

Every time a car driver hits a bike rider on the road, they were driving too close.  In order to address the key issue for all bicycle riders, whether or not they are delivering food, we will be calling for a road safety education campaign to educate drivers about the safe passing laws that have been in place since 2015.

“A well promoted road safety campaign to raise driver awareness of close passing laws would help improve road safety for all bicycle riders,” said Bicycle NSW General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace.

“We all need education and enforcement of these laws, to reduce the number of crashes, whether you work, travel or exercise on a bike,” said Bastien.

Once complete we will share our submission.  Our goal is to persuade regulators to move from policing clothing to more effective safety measures in the hierarchy of controls.

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