Bad news for New York City’s mounting number of grocery apps promising super-fast deliveries. An upcoming bill from City Councilman Christopher Marte would keep the city’s delivery apps from promoting the 15-minute delivery times that have become their main selling point.
For the past year or so, the city’s been absolutely inundated by a cavalcade of different food delivery startups — and some old-timers, like Doordash — all pitching their power to deliver any groceries, directly to your doorstep, in 15 minutes or less. It sounds great on paper, but these up-and-comers mostly get their business by cannibalising business and profits from the smaller corner shops scattered throughout the city, the same way Uber and Lyft had with the city’s taxi cabs. It also doesn’t help that “15 minutes or less” can sometimes, well, end up taking a bit longer than that, depending on where in the city you’re based.
Marte’s sticking point with the apps comes from the way these superfast promises can encourage drivers on e-bikes and scooters to move fast and break things — things like vehicles and human skulls.
Considering the state of e-vehicle safety across the city thus far, it makes sense he’d be on alert. E-bikes were tied to at least 20 fatalities across the city in 2020, and while we don’t have the figures for fatalities from last year, it doesn’t look good. At least two riders died after losing control of their vehicles, at least one pedestrian was killed after a delivery driver struck her after slipping on asphalt during a rainy day, and that’s not even counting the injuries and deaths that have happened in the wake of just trying to charge these bike’s batteries. It also doesn’t take into account the huge pressures put on poorly compensated delivery workers.
Giving riders more room to breathe (and more time to make deliveries) won’t solve all of those problems, but it might cut down on some reckless riding, at the very least. The bill is set to be introduced as part of a larger legislative bundle tackling other shortcomings he sees with grocery apps, a spokesperson for the New York City Council told Gizmodo over email.
Weight limits for deliveries and guidelines on how drivers carry packages are being considered “since if they are hit by a car it could cause greater injury, and carrying this amount of weight on their backs and upstairs puts them at long-term risk for spinal issues,” the spokesperson said. They added that the office was still in the “very preliminary stages” of planning things.
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