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Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart is urging food companies, such as Deliveroo and Just Eat, for better protection for their delivery motorcyclists.

The appeals follow the results of the charity’s survey, which raised questions about the conditions “gig workers” are often required to work under for such companies.

The research found that around two-thirds (65%) of motorists feel it’s unsafe for riders to work in snowy conditions, yet only 46% say they feel uncomfortable ordering in such situations.

A similar trend can be seen when it comes to other weather conditions. Around the same percentage (63%) feel it’s unsafe for motorcyclists to work in poor visibility such as fog, but again, only 45% feel bad about actually ordering under these circumstances. Around half (48%) also feel that working in rain is unsafe for riders, with only a third (34%) feeling uncomfortable about ordering.

The findings agree with research recently conducted by Professor Nicola Christie, who is a leading behavioural scientist and transport safety expert at University College London.

Christie’s research, based on employee and gig economy testimonies, uncovered that those in the gig economy aren’t always offered the same protection as employees. This includes suitable rest periods, risk assessments, and access to personal protective equipment (PPE). She also found that riders are often incentivised to work in adverse conditions and to do longer hours.

Professor Nicola Christie says that customers’ convenience is being prioritised ahead of riders’ well-being: “Our interviews with riders confirm some of the biggest concerns around the gig economy.  It is clear that there is a growing food delivery industry that offers the opportunity to work on a flexible basis. However, this flexibility should not come at the cost of safety.”

Meanwhile, the director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, Neil Greig, says there is clearly a gap in the protection offered for gig riders: “Although the public are aware of the risks delivery riders in the gig economy face, this does not appear to have dampened demand.

“However, nearly half of our respondents are prepared to pay more to enhance safety conditions, which could remove the link between higher income for riskier jobs. Our survey proves that many consumers don’t just want a quick meal delivered to their door, but they also want it delivered in an ethical manner which fully considers the safety of the rider.”

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