This story was originally published by Canary Media.
On Gustavo Ajche’s busiest shifts, he can deliver takeout dinners and groceries to two dozen doorsteps across New York City. Riding a sturdy bicycle with fat tires, he zips beneath Manhattan’s soaring buildings, propelled by his two feet and the lithium-ion battery attached to the bike’s frame. The extra juice enables him to cover more ground in a job that is only growing more physically demanding as home deliveries surge.
“Sometimes for a delivery, you have to travel 30 blocks away, 50 blocks away,” Ajche says on a rainy afternoon in late August, during a pause between orders for the delivery apps DoorDash and Grubhub. “Using a regular bike before was really, really hard. These e-bikes make it a lot easier for us.”
Ajche is the founder of Los Deliveristas Unidos, a collective of app delivery workers who advocate for better working conditions. Some 65,000 people now ferry food, medications, bottles of wine, and clothing through the city’s crowded streets. Like Ajche, the vast majority of couriers rely on two-wheeled transportation — and, increasingly, battery power — to perform their gig work.Read more