Biking is Labor: App-Based Food Delivery Cyclists and Infrastructure as Justice in New York City
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CitationGeschwindt, Mary. 2022. Biking is Labor: App-Based Food Delivery Cyclists and Infrastructure as Justice in New York City. Master's thesis, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
AbstractIn New York City, app-based food delivery cyclists face exploitative labor conditions as independent contractors for the gig economy and dangerous streets as vulnerable road users. By defining biking as labor and street as workplace, this thesis applies labor justice theory to transportation planning. The gig economy imposes a changing political economy, requiring a reimagining of who uses the street, how, and why. How could transportation planners respond to the rise of the gig economy’s influence on urban space in New York City by providing app-based food delivery cyclists with the physical infrastructure required to perform their work safely and fairly? Qualitative methods draw from three perspectives: delivery cyclist, policies and plans, and public narrative. Findings may inform transportation planners of the ways in which they can provide fairer and safer infrastructure by understanding delivery cyclists’ essential status, recognizing policy’s spatial limitations, balancing safety and efficiency, understanding delivery cyclists’ disproportionate risks, and acknowledging that delivery cyclists have a specific understanding of their infrastructure needs. Applying a labor justice perspective may be useful for creating safer streets for all existing roadway users as the gig economy continues to reshape who uses streets and in what ways.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37371653