Amazon abruptly fires its Seattle bike couriers, will try to drive packages instead

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 12.30.27 PMAmazon has fired dozens of bike couriers with little warning, apparently planning to deliver one-hour and two-hour Amazon Prime Now packages by driving in Seattle traffic instead. Good luck with that!

Needless to say, many of the couriers who just got fired are angry and worried about making rent, the Stranger reports. (Bike courier contractor US Dispatch advertised some of these job openings on this blog)

Seattle was apparently somewhat unique for having Amazon bike deliveries (though at least New York also has/had Prime deliveries by bike), according to Geekwire:

Industry insiders estimate that the move will affect about 60 bicycle couriers who carried packages for Amazon’s one- and two-hour delivery program in the city. One contracting firm told couriers in an email that the bike delivery program in Seattle was an exception, and that Amazon’s shift to full vehicle delivery was intended to create a more uniform process for its Prime Now cities.

This seems like a mistake for so many reasons. Bike delivery is a fast, pollution-free, low-congestion way to move goods relatively short distances. It’s a brilliant option for a service like Prime Now, which focuses on serving dense urban areas.

Shifting all this work to vans also means more traffic and more loading zone use. That’s not only bad for other delivery drivers who need those spaces, but it seems rather expensive to pay drivers to sit in traffic or circle city blocks looking for a parking spot. As one courier told the Stranger:

The courier I spoke with believes the e-commerce giant may come to regret the decision. She said she often picked up goods from Amazon cars stuck in downtown traffic in order to meet one-hour delivery deadlines.

For a company that has received so much attention for its ridiculous delivery drone idea, it’s strange that they are dropping an actually functional, low-impact way to move goods around dense neighborhoods.

This decision comes as the city is developing a Freight Master Plan that includes a section about the growing trend of more, smaller shipments throughout the city and cites Amazon by name, noting that “delivery of products using bicycle fleets has also increased in cities, allowing fast and reliable service where vehicle congestion hinders truck movement.”

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16 Responses to Amazon abruptly fires its Seattle bike couriers, will try to drive packages instead

  1. Gary Yngve says:

    And it means more delivery vans parking in bike lanes…

    • Duncan Watson says:

      No kidding and more delivery vans illegally parked in many fashions. This is a horrible decision and I would like to know more.

    • Josh says:

      Report those promptly to Seattle PD and they will ticket for it if they can get there before it’s been moved.

      A little public shaming is a good idea, too, for businesses that depend on customer goodwill to get stuff into their trucks — tweet photos of illegal delivery stops to @SeattlePD and to the company involved.

  2. toughcupcake says:

    they made so many mistakes when they began their bike courier project. those poor e bikes weren’t designed to carry those enormous trailers up hills. those trailers were craptastic regardless of what bike they were connected to. those nyc couriers couldn’t make sense out of the insane passivity seattle drivers exhibit compared to the predictable patterns of nyc traffic.

    no surprise.

  3. Bb says:

    i can’t till this blows up in their face.

    Fat chance getting anymore bike messengers after dumping them like trash.

  4. Gary says:

    Amazon making short sighted decisions? Typical of the company.

  5. Rich says:

    Dispensing with bike delivery of small items in favor of vehicles seems to be happening in many cities around the world. I read this week that New Zealand is about to do that same. Commentators are saying it will mean increased traffic, roads being blocked as delivery vehicles park on narrow streets and several hundred bike riding delivery staff facing redundancy. I guess that will also apply in Seattle!

  6. Law Abider says:

    Hurray for at-will employment? They should have formed a union.

    • Tuck says:

      I agree, at the same time… This company named after a life sustaining river and/or mythical warriors is one of the most anti-union sweat shop supporting entities out there and has an army of Audi and BMW driving lawyers at their disposal.
      Sorry lasses and lads, Amazon shit on your heads.

  7. Dave says:

    Delivery by car. In metro Seattle. Good freakin’ luck–I will enjoy seeing Amazon step on their own schlongs.

  8. Ben P says:

    I don’t even begin to understand how this makes sense in downtown. I’ve ridden past jammed traffic so many times. I’ve also accidentally gotten a trapped in a car in downtown traffic for an hour a few times. Why would they trade something fast for something slow?

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