Keeping safe at work

Do you use your motorbike, moped or scooter for the gig economy – delivering takeaway food to hungry customers’ homes, or for other urban deliveries?

If so, road safety charity IAM RoadSmart thinks its time you had a little more protection as you go about your work, particularly in challenging weather and road conditions.

And so do your customers: in a survey for the charity, well over half of respondents said they thought it was unsafe for riders to deliver food to their homes in snowy weather (65 per cent thought this); in fog (63 per cent); and in heavy rain (48 per cent).

But the problem is, even though they worry about your safety, they won’t stop ordering. In all cases fewer than half of respondents said the thought of their takeaway being delivered in dangerous or poor riding conditions would put them off ordering.

The answer we think lies in making sure gig economy riders have some protections in place. These should be the correct personal protection equipment (helmets, gloves, boots and proper jackets and riding trousers), guarantees over not riding for long hours, and bike skills training.

Professor Nicola Christie, a behavioural scientist and transport safety expert at University College London (UCL), has looked into the working conditions of those who ride a motorcycle for deliveries, both as an employee and as a member of the gig economy.

She says:

“Our interviews with riders confirm some of the biggest concerns around the gig economy.  It is clear that there is a growing food delivery industry that offers the opportunity to work on a flexible basis. However, this flexibility should not come at the cost of safety. This type of work is often putting customer’s convenience over the rider’s wellbeing.”

Professor Christie called for

“delivery platform companies to take the lead in addressing this issue and put systems in place to protect those out on the road representing their brand.”

One suggestion was to offer all gig economy riders additional PPE, advanced training on safety kit and skills, and regular maintenance checks for their bikes.

Interestingly, the survey found that almost half (48 per cent) of respondents said they would be prepared to pay more for their deliveries if companies signed up to an ethical standard to help improve safety conditions for its riders.

IAM RoadSmart said:

“Professor Christie’s research demonstrates there are gaps in the protection offered for gig riders.

“Although the public are aware of the risks delivery riders in the gig economy face, this does not appear to have dampened demand. However, nearly half of our respondents are prepared to pay more to enhance safety conditions, which could remove the link between higher income for riskier jobs.  Consumers don’t just want a quick meal delivered to their door, but they also want it delivered in an ethical manner which fully considers the safety of the rider.

“We know this is just one potential solution – but there is much more that could be done, and we want to work with delivery companies to help set a safety standard that works for all: the companies, the customers and the riders.

“If we can have the conversation around appropriate training, PPE, working conditions and pay, together we can help develop a model that allows the industry to continue successfully and safely, and ultimately see fewer motorcyclists put at risk on our roads.”

The survey is part of IAM’s RoadSmart’s broader campaign to recognise bike riders as vulnerable road users. For more information visit

* Delivering hot food on motorcycles: A mixed method study of the impact of business model on rider behaviour and safety, Nicola Christie

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