By Gabriella Gomperts, Staff Writer
Walking the streets of New York City has never felt more risky – and I’m not even speaking as a Jew. Roads and sidewalks are teeming with delivery cyclists speeding to deliver their orders at the expense of their own safety as well as that of pedestrians.
Delivery cyclists are everywhere. Delivery by bicycle emerged as a feature of the COVID-19 pandemic and has remained a staple aspect of the everyday lives of New Yorkers ever since. During the pandemic, people were stuck in their houses and therefore, it made sense to order-in lunch, dinner, or groceries. However, even after returning to relative normality, people continue to order in at the peril of others.
The impact of your takeout order affects the safety of New York’s pedestrians. People can’t even cross an intersection in New York without having a mini heart attack as cyclists whizz by, disregarding streetlights, pedestrians’ right of way, and their own safety. Delivery cyclists are motivated to deliver their orders as fast as possible, both to keep the food warm and also to meet customers’ expectations of fast deliveries. Additionally, the faster they deliver, the higher the tip they receive and the sooner they can accept another order. It’s a positive feedback loop with negative, sometimes tragic, consequences.
Working for delivery apps is convenient. All people need to complete this job is a phone, bicycle, and a food delivery box. Some riders don’t even wear a helmet! Delivery cyclists can decide their own hours and many even work seven days a week. While these opportunities seem great, the risk of losing one’s source of income is greater due to injuries, and there’s no safety blanket if one gets hurt on the job or their bike gets stolen.
Factors such as hurrying to deliver goods as fast as possible and avoiding the possibility of getting one’s bike stolen contribute to the reason why cyclists disregard their own safety as well as that of others. This fact is extremely problematic as roadside deaths and injuries spike. According to nyc.gov, 18 cyclists and 120 pedestrians were killed in 2022 alone. Now, pedestrians feel unsafe crossing the road or even just walking on the sidewalk.
Another factor that contributes to cycling accidents is phone use, both by pedestrians and cyclists. While out on the job, cyclists check maps and other apps that they use for delivery, while pedestrians often text or scroll on social media as they walk down the sidewalk. Neither pay attention to what’s in front of them and both don’t expect the other to be right there in front of them until it’s too late.
One way to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians is by creating more bike lanes and enforcing traffic rules. If there were more bike lanes, cyclists would be forced to use them and wouldn’t ride in the streets or on the sidewalk. Pedestrians would also have to do their part by being cognizant of bike lanes and avoid walking in them.
Pedestrians and cyclists also need to adhere to red lights, as right now, both feel comfortable crossing intersections when they don’t have the right of way. As lights turn, they need to be more aware and look both ways before crossing. Additionally, cyclists should slow down at all intersections. These basic standards should be enforced by crossing guards and law enforcement.
Delivery cyclists and pedestrians alike should be held to a higher standard in order to keep our streets safe from harm. Being more mindful and aware of your surroundings can go a long way in ensuring everyone’s safety.