The safety of food delivery cyclists became a subject of significant media discussion this week after a rider was killed in Redfern on Monday. As Nine News reported, police were called to the corner of Cleveland and Chalmers streets after a cyclist was hit by the driver of a truck and died at the scene. The death prompted NSW Labor upper house member Daniel Mookhey to declare that there was a “massive safety crisis” in the food delivery sector, while a number of media outlets noted this was the fifth death of a rider in three months.
As noted in The Guardian on Saturday, deaths of delivery riders rarely generate significant attention. Riders often work in precarious conditions, with family living overseas and little supervision or accountability from the companies that employ them.
On Tuesday, the NSW Government announced that it would establish a taskforce to investigate recent rider fatalities. According to the ABC, the taskforce will examine whether food delivery operators are implementing adequate safety measures and whether there are avoidable risks in cases where riders have died. As reported by News.com.au, a Transport Workers’ Union spokesperson has called for the Federal Government to step in to ensure that “the safety measures Uber and other companies have in place for their riders” were up to workplace standards.
On Friday, News.com.au reported that the family of a delivery rider killed in September would not receive compensation, as the rider was considered an independent contractor. As The Guardian reported, the families of food delivery riders in Australia may receive compensation, but the amount depends on whether and to what extent the company they work for has insured them. In some cases riders are uninsured.
Nine News reported on Thursday that food delivery riders were “dicing with death”, showcasing a number of instances where riders had accessed high-speed motorways and tunnels in Sydney. The outlet quoted a WestConnex representative as saying there was “an element of personal responsibility” required, and that riders needed to be made more aware of the danger the put themselves in. 3AW’s Neil Mitchell characterised food delivery riders as “oblivious or uncaring” about other traffic, arguing that there was “mutual responsibility” for riders to maintain awareness and consider their safety.