My Thesis project is to promote and encourage the safety of food delivery cyclists in Manhattan, NY by designing and improving existing bicycle or accessories
Food deliveryman is often being considered as one of the bottom most jobs one could get. This group of people faces many difficulties to make living especially their working condition where they have to swirl between traffics and avoid pedestrians and taxi to make deliveries to customers in a short time frame.
There are two very common danger deliverymen have to face everyday. One is natural and one is man made. Weather is an important factor that will affect deliverymen’s working condition greatly when wet floor and rain can cause brakes to become less effective and dramatically increase braking distance. Man made danger usually happen by dangerous driving and unlawful behaviours of autos driver and opening door carelessly occupants.
Employers and Deliverymen Problem:
In 2007, the new law passed on by Mayor Michael Bloomberg Suggested that employers have to provide basic safety equipments for food deliverymen no matter if the bicycles are store own or not. Employers are also required to post and educate their employees with Safety cards hand out by NYC’s DOT. However, many deliverymen on the street of Manhattan are still working without these equipments that can protect them from fatal injuries.
Government and Social Problem:
Most Customers demand lighting quick delivery and hot from oven food from food deliverymen while many provide less than adequate tips and some refuse to pay when delivery take longer than a certain time frame, which in a way push deliverymen to speed up during transporting process while many times carry more than four or five bags of food at once in order to meet customers’ demand. All the speeding and disproportion of food weight on the bicycle can cause fatal incidents due to less maneuverable handle and front wheel and less sensitive brakes because of the extra weight.
As to the government, even though some laws are passed on to make food deliveryman’s working environment safer, the enforcement part is not prominent enough to change the behaviours of food deliverymen. Also, New York City Department of Transportation doesn't keep track of injuries and fatalities involving bicycle messengers and delivery workers separately so the information on this group of people is less than sufficient. There are some data and recommendation of NYC Bike messengers and deliverymen done by the non profit organization Transportation Alternative but they are dated back in the early 90’s.
Through my research with food deliverymen, I realize that all of them agree that taxi is one of the most dangerous transportation to them. They also think dooring is the most hazardous to them. Many of them don’t wear helmet and don’t use lights during the night. They all lock their bicycles when they are away no matter how soon they will come back. Most of them work more than 10 hours a day but receive little money. When I ask them if there are any changes they would like to be done, Most of them agree they wish to have a better braking system for raining day and for shorter stopping distance. Some of them suggest a protection on or around handlebar to protect their hands.
Three Possible Products:
I feel that some sort of better products need to be added on to their working bicycle in order to make their delivery job safer and easier.
I am thinking of designing a basket with cushion that is capable to take all kind of food without move or re-shape the food. The material for basket can be polypropylene or traditional metal bar depend on the preference.
There are several braking systems out there and they all perform better in some way than others. While rim brake can get slippery during raining day and drum brake is harder to fix, Disc Brake is a plus and suggested as a good feature to have by deliverymen I interviewed with. This can be done mostly by using current after market part that are available but a newly designed part and frame that fit better is a more sounding solution. In terms of material, I am thinking of alloy for brakes and aluminum for the bike front fork.
Batter powered Pedal can make riding bicycle much easier and deliverymen need this option to make job easier. I would like to incorporate front and back lights on bicycles that they will light up with bicycle is in motion. I need to do some more research on the batter powered pedal and its cost because most of the electric bicycles on the market now are pricy. For the light, I am thinking of making it as a part of bicycle integrated on the bike frame or bike rack to reduce chance of vandalism and to shape the foam better. The light itself should be LED for brighter rays and less energy consumed.
NFP Part 1: Transportation Alternative is one of the most prominent non-for profit groups that works extensively with bicycle groups to make the environment for bicycle better. They have some valuable data related to food deliverymen on bicycle that I find beneficial to my project. I am also working with food deliverymen directly to get first hand information on the environment they work in, equipments they use, and other related issues they find important. I also contacted with numerous bicycle groups to obtain information related to food delivery industry. Because Most of the food deliverymen are South American (mostly Mexican) and Asian (Mostly Chinese), I would like to contact with The Latino Workers Center (LWC) and Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association (CSWA) for more information and statistics on food deliverymen in Manhattan.
Part 2: I am planning to have interview and brainstorming with Transportation Alternative and also get in contact with more deliverymen on how and what to improve for their delivery job to be easier.
I think by talking and gathering information with T.A for 30 to 60 minutes will give me more lead to the problem and knowledge on people who I can get in contact with.
Step 1: Introduce to T.A. the problem I am researching at and show them the interview I had with Food deliverymen
Step 2: Ask for any information or update they have regarding this issue.
Step 3: Brainstorming with them for possible solution and design