Mr. Liu at a Biking Public Project focus group of Chinese food delivery cyclists. Photo: Argenis Apolinario (http://www.argenisphoto.com/)
“We feel as if the police are picking on us,” said Mr. Liu, the President of the Chinese Delivery Workers Union. Mr. Liu was telling Xiaodeng, Dustin, and I about the challenges encountered by many Chinese and other delivery cyclists who use electric bikes in NYC.
A NYC ordinance prohibits electric bikes (or motorized scooters) as seen below in an excerpt from NYC Administrative Code 19-176.2:
NYC delivery cyclist. Photo courtesy of the Biking Public Project.
“I’m just too tired,” a Chinese deliveryman told Xiaodeng.
Xiaodeng and I were in Chinatown recently trying to recruit Chinese food delivery cyclists to participate in an upcoming focus group about their opinions on street and bike safety. Xiaodeng went to talk to this Chinese deliveryman as he glided up to his restaurant on an e-bike. Since I don’t speak Chinese Mandarin, I relied on Xiaodeng to tell me what happened after a ten minute conversation, an eternity for a delivery cyclist during the dinner rush.
Afterward, Xiaodeng told me that the delivery guy was interested and had a lot to share, but that he was simply to exhausted from his delivery work to take any time to participate in our focus group. However, at the moment we stopped him to talk, the deliveryman had a lot to say to Xiaodeng about street safety. He told us about the prevalence of street danger for him, both from cars and from other people. The deliveryman had been robbed and assaulted multiple times on deliveries, customers occasionally gave him counterfeit money, and the police once confiscated his e-bike and gave him a $500 ticket for it. He thought the focus group that we’re trying to do is important, but that he is just too tired from work to participate. He recommended we try to find younger deliverymen with more energy. He looked about 50 years old to me, but Xiaodeng thought he looked more like 60 years old. Mostly, we caught a glimpse of pain. Continue reading