The Link Between Facebook and Bike Messengers

In New York City, food delivery people are becoming a big part of the city’s growing gig economy and now they have demands such as protocols when someone loses their electric bike, injury support, access to public restrooms, and more. The everyday struggles of these people are being reflected on pages like El Diario de los Deliveryboys en la Gran Manzana (The Diary of the Delivery Boys in the Big Apple). The above page was created by César Solano Catalán along with some other people after two cyclists who were delivering food were killed in November 2020 on the road. The page has more than twenty-five thousand followers and shows the everyday struggles of delivery workers, especially immigrant delivery workers in New York.

“This page has several purposes: to support colleagues like us without asking for anything in return, whether in a vigil, accident, or robbery. We publish whatever is related to us,” Solano explained, adding “there are other pages that existed before us, but they were linked to certain groups or nationalities. But we do not have any flag, colour, country, or race. We are only helping.” “It is called like that so that you can see what food delivery workers go through every day.”

Before the pandemic began Solano was working with apps like DoorDash part-time however after he was laid off he started delivering food full time. “I am working with food apps because I don’t have a boss and I have flexible hours. I can rest whenever I can. That’s one of the advantages that applications give you,” he says adding “but there are other times that apps do not understand you. Your tire goes flat, your bike is stolen, they don’t answer for us. Because we are independent workers."

According to New American Economy, an advocacy organisation about one out of three people delivering food in the state of New York are undocumented giving them even fewer resources when things go sideways when delivering food. “You just filed a report with the police, and the police tell you here’s the report and that’s it. They say they will call when they have something, but they never called me. The same happened to my uncle and other acquaintances,” Solano said.

Solano himself has helped in the recovery of five bikes. He also mentioned how dangerous it can be when going to recover a stolen bike without any protective equipment since undocumented immigrants do not have that right. “It’s dangerous. We go without weapons, knife, or razor when going to retrieve a bicycle. It’s like going to war without weapons. As undocumented immigrants, we do not have that right or that facility to carry a weapon as self-defense.”

Solano’s page is just one of the many pages helping food delivery workers in New York with almost the same demands like better working conditions. “We are not an organization,” said Solano, adding “we are delivery boys who want to raise our voices. We demand results and progress. We are food delivery workers and want to come together.”