A Greenpointer has launched an online fundraiser to support delivery cyclists putting their life on the line to pedal meals to home-bound Brooklynites amid a surge in demand due to the novel coronavirus.
“They’re in many ways on the forefront of this as a public health crisis both for themselves in terms of not getting sick as well as spreading it,” said Cathasach O’Neill, who works as a delivery biker for a wine store.
The northern Brooklynite said that the demand has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Everybody talks about medical suppliers but they don’t look at the many other jobs out there that need supplies and information,” they said.
O’Neill’s GoFundMe page aims to collect money to buy supplies for the workers, like hand sanitizer, face-masks, gloves, and cleaning materials to sterilize their equipment — although the cyclist worries that shortages might make many of those things difficult to come by.
“We still need to figure out a source for all of this stuff, we don’t know where to get masks,” O’Neill said.
The two-wheeled meal couriers are highly vulnerable to falling through the cracks because many of them are immigrant workers, some of whom are undocumented, O’Neill added. The do-gooder hopes the initiative will also push city officials to offer information about the virus in more languages than English and Spanish, stressing that Chinese is many bike-bound workers’ first language.
O’Neill also hopes that cyclists — many of whom do not receive benefits from the app companies they deliver for — don’t burn themselves out trying to meet the demand.
“Other businesses are becoming worried that they don’t have delivery riders. At some point exhaustion is going to be a real problem,” they said. “There’s only so many delivery workers.”
Due to the long, strenuous hours, many of the riders ride e-bikes, which are illegal on the city’s streets.
Mayor Bill de Blasio directed police to stop cracking down on e-bike delivery workers on March 16 after local pols and advocates demanded cops stop issuing tickets and seizing vehicles, Streetsblog reported.
Albany legislators might legalize e-bikes as part of the state budget, but one immigrants rights activist said that pols need to immediately lift the ban on the bikes and support the carriers.
“Right now, it’s important the state immediately pass the e-bike legalization bill so they won’t be criminalized for doing their urgent work, and that both the state and city provide immediate support to make sure they stay healthy and supported,” said Angelis Solis of Make the Road New York, an organization working to aid immigrant and working class communities.