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Takeaway Delivery Riders

Nikki talking to Watchdog Live undercover reporter

A BBC Watchdog Live investigation reveals the lack of safety training implemented by one of the largest food delivery services, Deliveroo.

After reports that some riders go too fast or even cycle on the pavement to get make their deliveries on time, we sent a reporter undercover as a Deliveroo rider.

Watchdog’s journalist found there was no mandatory safety training, and no requirement for him to be a proficient or safe cyclist. He was able to become a Deliveroo rider in just 30 minutes.

After a quick online application, he was asked to attend an 'onboarding’ session, which was the only time he came face to face with any Deliveroo employees.

No one asked to see his bike, or made sure he understood the rules of the road, and they didn’t make sure he watched the company’s safety videos.

The reporter was told he could view safety videos online at home, but Deliveroo didn’t check if he had done so.

Watchdog was contacted by san anonymous Deliveroo rider who told the programme that Deliveroo carries out no safety checks on bikes or riders, and the pressure to complete jobs quickly leads to riders taking risks.

Watchdog viewer Ben Dickson has been been hit by cyclists delivering for both Uber Eats and Deliveroo in his home city of Leicester.

Ben, who is partially sighted, told presenter Nikki Fox how a collision with an Uber Eats cylist who was riding on the pavement left his guide dog Erwin hurt and shaken. The cyclist rode off without without stopping.

In the same area of Leicester city centre, Ben and Erwin were clipped by a Deliveroo cyclist.

This rider did stop to check they were OK- and fortunately this time, neither were hurt.

Irene wasn’t as fortunate when she was hit by a Deliveroo rider in May of this year; her elbow was broken after her own bike was struck by the Deliveroo rider, who she says was using the wrong section of a path shared between pedestrians and cyclists.

Irene needed 4 hours of surgery and two months off work, and has permanently lost full mobility in her elbow.

Irene told the programme “It’s an accident that could have been prevented. Deliveroo should ensure that whoever they have to represent their company should be responsible on the road. They have a duty of care to other road users and pedestrians. I think, and that should be something that should be put in place before they take on these jobs.”

Deliveroo cyclists are all classed as self-employed and are told they can earn up to £120 a day.

Deliveroo says the fees paid per job reflect the duration and difficulty of each order, but over three shifts, Watchdog’s reporter found it was sometimes hard to earn even a minimum wage.

Once riders become a Deliveroo cyclist they are allowed to get someone else to do carry out their work. The company calls this a 'substitution’. All the stand-in needs is the usual rider’s Deliveroo login; there are no further checks at all. It’s down to the rider who’s handing over their login to make sure the substitute is allowed to work in the UK, and understands safety. Deliveroo don’t ask any questions or get involved.

Responses from Deliveroo to Watchdog’s questions:

How does Deliveroo ensure that the riders which represent your company are proficient and safe cyclists? What specific training is provided in this regard, and is it mandatory?

“Road safety is a priority for Deliveroo. Before riding with Deliveroo, every rider completes a programme of road safety guidance.

“This guidance includes information videos and content focused on vehicle roadworthiness and maintenance, road safety and what to do in the event of an accident on the road. This online safety guidance is available to all riders throughout their time riding with us and is accessible at any time.

“All riders are offered free, government-recognised cycling training courses.

“All riders are required to meet minimum safety standards and, as with all road users, they must follow all local road safety laws. We have a zero tolerance policy for any rider found to have broken the law while working with us, or who has put themselves or anyone else in danger through dangerous driving. If a rider is found to have broken the rules of the road, Deliveroo will not work with that rider.

“Deliveroo is always looking at how we can improve our onboarding process and improve the safety of riders.”

How does the business ensure that riders have the correct safety equipment- for example, a fully functioning bike, lights, helmet and high vis jacket?

“Road safety is a priority for Deliveroo. Deliveroo makes sure riders have roadworthy bikes and the company
makes hyper visible kit - designed to ensure riders can be seen by all road users - available to every rider free of charge. Free helmets are also available to all cyclists.

“All riders are offered free, government-recognised cycling training courses.

“Deliveroo provides all riders with accident and third party liability insurance completely free of charge, so they and others are protected should anything go wrong while riders are out on the road.”

Would Deliveroo consider requiring their riders to have ID plates so that dangerous cycling can be reported?

“Road safety is of utmost importance to us and we operate a zero tolerance policy towards any riders who are found to have broken the rules of the road.

“As part of our commitment to road safety, we make hyper visible kit - designed to ensure riders can be seen by all road users - available to every rider free of charge. Free helmets are also available to all cyclists.

“We would ask people to share any complaints with us so that wherever possible, we can use our technology to identify whether a Deliveroo rider was involved in an incident and take action.”

Statement from Uber Eats:

“Safety is our top priority and we take every road incident very seriously, and any courier found to be driving or cycling dangerously risks losing permanent access to the app. We are proud of our partnership with Cycling UK, who have provided advice on how to cycle safely and responsibly which we have distributed to thousands of couriers. Additionally, all couriers have access to free AXA insurance in the event of an incident. We will keep listening, learning and improving to promote the safety of all road users.”