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N.Y. Today: Delivery Workers Dangers

Email sent: Mar 10, 2021 5:51am
What you need to know for Wednesday.

The Dangerous Job of Making Deliveries in N.Y.C.

By Juliana Kim

Metro reporter

It’s Wednesday.

Weather: Sunny, with a high in the mid- to upper 50s.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until March 28 (Passover).

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Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

When Manuel Perez-Saucedo, a food delivery worker, was threatened with a gun and robbed of his electric bicycle in Brooklyn, he was not surprised.

“I knew it was my turn to get robbed,” he told my colleague Edgar Sandoval, who covers criminal justice.

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Mr. Perez-Saucedo is among the growing number of New York City delivery workers who have fallen victim to robberies and other violent assaults over the past year. During the pandemic, the demand for food deliveries skyrocketed as many people worked from home or limited their time outdoors. At the same time, delivery work became more precarious.

Aside from robberies, delivery workers have suffered from low pay, a shortage of protective gear and a lack of places to rest or use a restroom.

I spoke with Mr. Sandoval about the rise in attacks on delivery workers. Here is a lightly edited version of our conversation:

Why are bike robberies surging in the city?

There isn’t a clear-cut answer. But the authorities said there was a clear jump in electric bike robberies during the pandemic. The police and activists point to a number of possible factors.

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First, there are a lot more delivery workers relying on pricey electric bikes to do their jobs faster. Second, the police said, these types of workers are easy targets, and stolen bikes provide easy cash. The record-high unemployment and difficult job market may also play a role, the authorities said.

Why are delivery workers wary of reporting robberies to the police?

A big portion of this work force comes from other countries, doesn’t speak English fluently and fears that going to the police may lead to deportation.

Many simply feel the risk is too high and prefer to cobble together the money any way they can to buy another electronic bike to keep working.

What are some other issues delivery workers are facing during the pandemic?

Aside from the fact that they are wary of facing violence on the streets, many are already risking their health by exposing themselves to the virus on a daily basis. Their jobs are not easy.

Thousands of workers recently formed a group called Deliveristas Unidos to demand better working conditions, including places to rest, access to restrooms, hazard pay and higher wages. Because many work freelance, they also don’t have access to health care.

From The Times

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

What we’re reading

A New Jersey Amtrak employee was arrested after being accused of stealing dozens of chain saws and parts from the railroad agency. [New York Post]

A statue honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late Supreme Court justice, will be unveiled at City Point in Downtown Brooklyn. [Gothamist]

Sonic, the fast-food chain, announced it would open its first Manhattan location in Midtown. [The Real Deal]

If you’ve found this newsletter helpful, please consider subscribing to The New York Times — with this special offer. Your support makes our work possible.

And finally: New York bagels vs. California bagels

When Lewis Spada, the co-owner of Shelsky’s Brooklyn Bagels, stumbled upon a recent New York Times article that claimed the best bagels were from California, his first thought was: “How dare you?”

The much-talked-about article by The Times’s California restaurant critic, Tejal Rao, highlighted several bakers who were “tinkering and excelling with regional styles,” part of what she called a “West Coast bagel boom.” Her piece drew bagel enthusiasts from all over into a debate about where the best bagel can be found.

“It’s funny because it doesn’t fit into so many people’s cliched ideas about California, but there’s a long history of bread baking here, and it’s thrilling to see how many excellent bakers are focused on bagels right now,” Ms. Rao told me. “Of course, everyone has her own idea of what a ‘perfect’ bagel should look and taste like, how dense or shiny it should be, and where exactly it should come from.”

While it may be true that good bagels can exist anywhere, the question of who makes the best bagel can be divisive.

Mr. Spada, of Brooklyn Bagels, said the answer was clear: “There is no competition. This isn’t a rivalry. We just conquer it.” He added that he had tasted California bagels before. “It was just bread with a hole in it,” he said. “There was no nuance.”

Melanie Frost, who runs Ess-A-Bagels in Manhattan, said New York bagels reigned supreme because of the longstanding tradition of bagel-making in the city. “We’ve been around for 40-plus years. We know our bagels like nobody else — to try to replicate is very difficult.”

Ms. Frost added, “California should stick to their avocado toast.”

Vincent Geraldi, the owner of Tasty Bagels in Brooklyn, said, “The first thing any transplant from New York to any other states says is that they miss the bagels and the pizza. It can’t be a coincidence that everyone misses the same thing!”

Audrey Wachs, a journalist from Los Angeles, argued that finding a good bagel was a sure bet in New York. “You go to any bakery or cart, you’re basically guaranteed a decent, affordable bagel,” she said. “Los Angeles and San Francisco with their $4 not-warm bagels can’t compete.”

It’s Wednesday — support your local businesses.

Metropolitan Diary: Chatting

Dear Diary:

I was chatting with some friends while sitting on a bench at Stuyvesant Town.

A woman on the next bench looked over at us.

“Please keep your voices down,” she said. “I’m trying to make a phone call.”

— Matthew Warschauer

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