Mumbai: Vigilantes take rash food delivery riders to task in Malad
As Mumbai police start sending e-challans to offenders caught on camera by residents, Orlem initiative spreads to other parts of Malad
Under pressure to get your order to you while it's still steaming, food delivery bikers are leaving the city's roads and pavements in an equally hot mess. Tired of food runners terrorising pedestrians by riding on the footpath or on the wrong side of the road, Malad residents have launched a massive drive against such offenders. So far, they have caught at least 200 bikers in the past month alone.
This paper had earlier reported how the road safety campaign had originally started with just a handful of residents in Orlem who launched a joint drive with the police to catch motorists getting on the wrong side of the law. The campaign was so successful that it has now spread across Malad's other localities as well, with as many as 550 volunteers monitoring roads and pavements.
Swiggy food delivery guy
Fed up of bikers recklessly riding on the wrong side, putting lives at risk and sending traffic into disarray, volunteers have started taking pictures and videos of the culprits and sharing the evidence with the Mumbai Police on Twitter. The drive has spread to Evershine Nagar, Vishal Nagar, and several other areas. Across all neighbourhoods, the volunteers observed the same pattern: most of the errant bikers were food runners in a tearing hurry to meet the time limit set by their respective delivery apps. Johannes Remedios, who started the movement three months ago, said, "Most of these bikers are food delivery guys. I remember a few days ago, around 38 violators were fined within two hours."
Most of the bikers who got caught were food runners; (right) Cops and volunteers have caught over 200 reckless bikers in the past month
"I've been hit by many bikers riding on the footpath. Most of the videos and photographs I have shared with Mumbai Police on Twitter are of bikers from food delivery apps," said volunteer Kate Fernandes. "I have noticed that as long as they can see us patrolling the pavements, pedestrians are safe. But minutes after we leave, they get back on the footpath, even if the roads are empty. It has just become a habit for them," she added.
Joel L Furtado, a volunteer from Evershine Nagar, said, "I feel Evershine Nagar is the heart of Malad West. But to enter this area one needs to go through a lot of hassle because of bikers and hawkers crowding the pavement. This creates a lot of trouble for pedestrians, who have no choice but to walk on the road." Mrs Willrine, who leads Evershine Nagar volunteers, said, "We are trying to help the traffic police in patrolling this area. Our campaign has got a thumbs up from locals and the cops, but we also need the attention of the BMC or MMRDA. They must fix the pathetic condition of the footpaths and install bollards along the pavements, leaving no entry points for motorists."
The other side
A spokesperson from Zomato said, "We educate all our delivery partners on following the traffic rules and norms on an ongoing basis. Additionally, we also monitor them through a GPS-based speed tracking mechanism, that helps us identify speeding or other traffic violations. We reward those who follow traffic rules, drive well and don't have any traffic violations." However, the official denied comment when asked whether the delivery bikers have a time limit to deliver the food.
Meanwhile, Swiggy issued the following statement to mid-day: "Every single partner undergoes training on road safety and traffic rules during their induction, followed by regular programmes to build safe riding practices, especially during peak hours. More recently, we launched the Swiggy's Safety First programme, through which our delivery partners are trained on the various aspects of road safety, and equipped with skills like first aid. Importantly, any instance of traffic violation that is brought to our notice is dealt with immediate investigation, followed by suspension." Queries sent to Uber Eats' official Twitter handle went unanswered.
Runners pay either way
Not only do the delivery agents end up paying fines for traffic violations, but they are also penalised for late deliveries. A food runner from Zomato told this paper, "We have time limits for deliveries, and we have to pay a penalty of R5-10 for each late complaint. We get around R35 for a delivery within 4-5 km, along with incentives if we make 15 deliveries in a day." A delivery agent from Swiggy said, "There is no time limit if we are stuck in a traffic jam, but because of continuous calls from customers and our office, we are left with no option but to find shortcuts."
Jitendra Bhavsar, senior PI of Malad Traffic Division, said, "In the past month, we have fined more than 200 violators, most of whom were food bikers. We conduct joint drives in the area with the help of volunteers. The campaign is helping us to take action against violators." He added that they were also issuing e-challans on the basis of pictures received on Twitter.
Fine for driving on the wrong side
Penalty Zomato riders have to pay for late deliveries
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