Where would Hell’s Kitchen be without its delivery workers? A new coalition has rolled out the welcome mat to deliveristas who keep the neighborhood running, but with a special side order — please don’t ride dangerously, for your safety and ours.
Councilmember Erik Bottcher, Councilmember Gale Brewer, Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Assemblymember Tony Simone, Pedestrians for Bike Safety (PBS), Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Chelsea Coalition for Pedestrian Safety (CHEKPEDS) and Los Deliveristas Unidos rallied at Balsley Park, at W57th Street and 9th Avenue to promote bike safety among migrant delivery workers and welcome them to the neighborhood.
Following the press conference, the coalition divided into three teams to focus on key areas along 8th, 9th, and 10th Avenues. These are places where delivery workers often congregate. The teams distributed flyers in Spanish, French, and English, offering safety guidelines. The flyers emphasized important points such as refraining from riding on sidewalks or “super-sidewalks,” avoiding going against the flow of traffic, and not using mopeds in bike lanes.
“Today we really want to welcome our friends, the deliveristas. When people arrive in the neighborhood, you’re supposed to have a little party and welcome them and we never did that,” said Christine Berthet, CHEKPEDS founder and co-chair of the Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) Transportation Committee. “This event is to say welcome and to invite them to work with us on these issues.”
“We’re the welcome wagon here in Hell’s Kitchen, but we are also informing them of the standards that we expect of all cyclists,” said Senator Hoylman-Sigal.
“We’re out here focusing on education and outreach which is a key for developing a culture of bike safety in New York City,” said CM Bottcher, who is a sponsor of a bill going through the City Council to require electrically assisted vehicles to be licensed and registered. “We need to come at this from all angles.”
After receiving one of the flyers at 9th Avenue and W54th Street, Elioso, a delivery worker for two years, told W42ST that he used to feel pressure to drive fast to get a rating from customers. The higher the rating a delivery driver has, the more deliveries are available to them — but now he cares more about just driving safely.
“It’s just better to drive safer because if you get in an accident the delivery companies aren’t going to care about you if something happens to you,” said Elioso. “People can open doors when getting out of their cars and it’s dangerous if you’re going too fast.”
“The biggest issue we have right now is that the city doesn’t have the infrastructure necessary for all of the micromobility options that delivery workers use,” said William Medina, a leader with Los Deliveristas Unidos. “I think the city needs to take a look at how to change the structure of the city because it’s no longer just cars that people use for transportation. It’s also all the micromobility options too.”
According to the City of New York, 101,200 asylum seekers have come to the five boroughs since last spring, with many of them working in the delivery industry.
Last week, MCB4’s Transportation Committee voted to send a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and elected officials recommending a multi-faceted approach to increase safety on bike lanes and for pedestrians.
The measures address the surge in electric bikes, mopeds and app-based bike deliveries that bypass city laws and propose the addition of bike corrals, legislation mandating bike safety courses for commercial cyclists, and funding for on-site training for delivery workers at delivery hubs. Additional reporting and tracking to evaluate the scope of the problem is also called for, alongside a reduction in speed limits and the widening of bicycle lanes.
“The issue of e-bikes is number one on my complaint list from people calling,” said Gale Brewer during the meeting.
Enforcement is another big topic of discussion — tickets for reckless bike riding and riding on sidewalks are up 400% and 500% respectively. “We believe that NYPD can take certain affirmative steps to curb dangerous biking behavior,” says the letter. Those steps include creating a dedicated unit to issue tickets and fines and an initial three to six months of warnings without tickets.
“This letter is specifically about addressing the electric bikes, mopeds, and app-based bike deliveries that are riding irresponsibly and illegally on our streets by speeding and going the wrong way,” said MCB4’s Jesse Greenwald. “It has been so long since there has been any enforcement in this area. We think it’s fair that we give bike riders and delivery drivers some warning before we start fully fining them.”
Brewer has supported Senator Hoylman-Sigal’s bill requiring the registration of electric bicycles with electric assist used for commercial purposes, which has yet to pass. She also called for safety courses, adding that delivery apps should equip workers with headlights and tail lights.
Organizers told W42ST that they spoke to nearly 200 delivery workers in a combined three avenue outreach in French, Spanish and English. “Organizing a community action like this necessitates building out strong coalitions that include a diverse group of stakeholders. Pedestrians for Bike Safety believes community-based action must be an integral part of outreach to ensure messaging to the widest possible group.” said a spokesperson for PBS. “Yesterday’s event in Hell’s Kitchen is the epitome of ordinary residents leading the charge for change in New York City that will benefit everyone, whether they are walking, cycling or driving. In future street actions, PBS hopes to coordinate efforts with the delivery app companies and their employees. Together we can make New York City sidewalks and streets safer for everyone.”