They are a familiar sight, weaving between the lines of traffic in Dublin. But four months into his time as a delivery rider, Arthur Borges has mixed feelings about the job.
There are already parts of Dublin he is learning to avoid when he’s out on his bike. He has been attacked with rocks, while some of his fellow riders have been “hunted” by gangs of youths.
“When I spot teenagers on the route, I always think there will be trouble,” Mr Borges said. Sometimes they throw rocks at us while we’re riding.
“I have friends who have had their bikes stolen. We all make it a point to lock them, but they break the locks and they still get stolen. This is especially hard when your job depends on them.”
With two more years of experience, Ricardo Vieira avoids parts of the city altogether, choosing to work only where he feels safe. He feels the city’s northside is “definitely more dangerous”.
“For example, I never travel out to Cabra or Finglas if I can help it. I prefer to work in the south, it’s much safer.
“If you report it to the gardai, they don’t do anything about it. They brush it off and say they can’t do anything about it, or they say they will, but then they don’t do anything.”
Frustrated with the lack of support, delivery riders have come to rely on each other for safety.
A WhatsApp group has been set up where they reach out to each other if they find themselves in threatening situations.
“A friend and I were in a situation like this recently. We sent out a text on the group and 15 other riders came out to support us,” said Mr Borges.
Mr Vieira added: “You can’t take them on alone. You can’t do anything but run. If we fight them back, we are the ones who get into trouble. A lot of the time they are very young, so you can’t do anything about it.
“There have been times when a big group forms a circle around you. There have even been instances where riders have had laughing gas thrown at them.”
In his third year working as a delivery rider, Estefam, who did not want to give his second name, has experienced both the good and the bad.
His favourite part of the job is being his own boss and having the freedom to choose his hours. However, he admits to feeling scared when he first started out on his bike.
“I did have a lot of fear during the pandemic. There were a lot of attacks on delivery riders, I don’t know why they were hunting us,” he said.
“It’s hard being on your bike. If you fight back, it just gets worse. Sometimes bus and taxi drivers can also be impatient with us on the road.”
Daniel G, a bike enthusiast, has been working on and off for the last two years. His preferred routes are south Dublin, and parts of the northside, close to Phoenix Park and Stoneybatter.
Despite being attacked while on the job, he relies too much on the money he earns to give it up.
“I was delivering something near the city centre at 2am when some junkies pounced on me from the pedestrian walk way,” he said.
“At this point, I don’t enjoy doing it anymore, I’m just doing it for the money. But what can I do? I just do my job, I keep going,” he said.
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