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Biking Public Project

MUST-WATCH: ‘Delivery Guys are Not Trash’ — They’re Heroes

If you watch nothing else today, please watch this four-minute video by producers Jon Hsu and Law Chen featuring New York's hard-working delivery cyclists.

Try not to cry when one of the workers says he can't afford health insurance. "I use hand sanitizer," he says.

Here's how director Chen, who recorded delivery workers in late March and into April, described the film on its Vimeo page:

Thousands of invisible front line workers risk their health every day to bring food to your couch. They aren't just immigrants struggling to survive in New York City. They aren't just the delivery men and women you don't look at when you open your door. They are the backbone of this city, they are the essential. Most important, they are people, too, and they deserve our respect and recognition now more than ever. Tip generously if you'd like and give them PPE if you can.

I've been riding alongside couriers and messengers in the city for a decade. In the past, I've been mistaken as a delivery biker whenever I carry any sort of bag even in my own building, probably because I'm Asian. That used to annoy me, but now I realize they're more needed than most of us.

In a subsequent interview with Streetsblog, Chen said he was motivated to capture the workers in their own words because of how misunderstood these workers are. But that's changing a bit, due to the crisis.

"From the people I spoke to, customers are definitely more kind and generous now," Chen said. "They are finally recognizing delivery workers for the essential work they are doing. ... When all of this is over will that appreciation continue? I hope so. There is still this lingering feeling of inequality. The people I talked to want to be treated as people. Ultimately, they are just like you and me, New Yorkers."

Not included in the movie was an exchange Chen had with one delivery man, who was originally from Mali.

"I asked him what he used to do in his free time (he's working seven days a week now), and his answer was something along the lines of, 'Yyou know, go to the bar/club, play some sports or video games, hang out with friends, call my family back home, make some food for myself.' I was like, 'Me, too.'"

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