Some days it all comes together. A great day out, the car's in the shop.
Doordash had just introduced their Bicycle Mode on the Dasher app. This was as good a time as any to give it a try.
You may have noticed the little button on the bottom of the map on the Doordash delivery app. In my market, you can choose between Car, Bicycle, and e-Bike.
Have you wondered what it would be like to deliver on a bike? Or how Doordash stacks up to other delivery apps out there?
If you're like me, you enjoy getting out on the bike from time to time, and you wonder if you can make some decent money on your bike, you can understand why I was a little geeked out to try out the new Bike Mode.
So I loaded up the work truck (Surly Disc Trucker) onto the car's bike rack and headed downtown to give it a try.
Other Bicycle Options in My Market
I'm a bit of a bike nut. I'm slow and out of shape but I still love my bike. I'd probably be even more out of shape without it.
When I started doing delivery, I was a bit stoked about getting out on my bike from time to time. Making money while I'm out on my bike? That's a bonus.
If you read my blog, you know I'm all about tracking my progress. Profit per hour is a big deal to me. But when I've delivered on my bike, I haven't usually worried about it.
I told myself that it was just because I wanted to just enjoy it. The truth is, I wasn't really making that much. The alternative was to not take it too seriously. Just enjoy the ride.
The thing is, options in my area weren't all that great for bikes. Until Doordash introduced bicycle mode, my only options were Uber Eats and Postmates.
The algorithm with Uber Eats for bike accounts is horrible. It's supposed to limit the distances, both to pick up and to drop off, but it doesn't do that. Not for me anyway. I'll still get offers for 15 minutes away (and that's 15 minutes DRIVE time, NOT bike time).
In the days before Doordash introduced the Bicycle mode, Uber Eats didn't show you where you were going when they sent a delivery offer. It was a crapshoot at best. I would pick up an order and the customer was 8 miles away.
Postmates was better at dispatching offers suitable for bike delivery. They were awesome at it. The problem was, they weren't busy enough to make it worth while. The only good thing about that was that being out of shape, I didn't mind the rest between deliveries as much
Bike delivery on Doordash apparently wasn't an option previouisly.
At least not officially.
Okay, I have a little confession. I had done some deliveries for Doordash. In those long waits between Postmates offers, I'd turn on the Dasher app and Grubhub app and see if anything good came along.
In fact, I reached out to Doordash and asked how I could get set up to deliver on bike. Surprisingly, I received a reply back (Doordash isn't good at getting back to you).
Unfortunately their response was that bike delivery was not an option in Denver. I was bummed.
That seems odd to me, because I've seen guys on bikes with big Doordash backpacks. Did Doordash lie to me? (Doordash wouldn't lie to us, would they?). Or did these guys just decide screw it, we're using our bikes anyway.
I mean, I get it. I'd decided that a few times, trying out deliveries here and there. If it was a short offer, why not take it on a bike?
After that response though, I decided it was best not to try riding a bike for Doordash any longer. With some of these apps you just don't take chances working outside their structure. It would be absurd for them to deactivate you for something like using your bike.
But, we all know Doordash. Absurdity isn't beyond them.
And then the bicycle option appears
I had more or less given up on bike delivery. Uber Eats was awful. Postmates was god-awful slow. Technically it wasn't an option on Doordash or Grubhub.
Then one day, there it was on the app. A little button that said Car at the bottom and a downward arrow (v). I tapped it…
It was time to give it a try.
Wanna know how I felt after trying it out?
Let me just say…. I'm definitely doing more bike deliveries on Doordash.
I was able to knock out five deliveries in the hour and forty five minutes that I logged in. The offers were reasonable, the distances were reasonable, and it all worked out pretty well.
After all the headaches with Uber Eats and Postmates, this was an incredible breath of fresh air. The offers were constant, which was a huge improvement over Postmates. Delivery lengths were reasonable, usually about a mile or two. That was a heck of a lot better than Uber Eats.
I didn't really have any bad orders. There was one three mile delivery offer that I declined. That had more to do with the hill that was between me and the customer.
I know, that's the fat old man in me making decisions. Maybe that's part of why the ‘fat' still applies here?
While the first try here was less than two hours, bike delivery has never gone this smooth for me. I only averaged $17.15 per hour. However, that was a huge improvement over earlier attempts.
Looking back, two of those deliveries were ones I normally wouldn't have taken. The restaurants were notorious for long waits. My past experience with the other apps was that it was hard to find offers that would work. I think that created a scarcity mentality.
The beauty of it was that I'm realizing I can be selective on bike deliveries in the same way as I was with car deliveries. I don't worry about acceptance rates.
The biggest drawbacks I found:
The biggest problem that I saw was that Doordash did still try to stack offers for me. I only had one delivery bag that I could set in a basket on the front bike rack. At this point I wasn't ready to try double orders.
I think I rejected four offers just because of that. I did end up accepting one mutliple delivery. That was because the dropoff for my first order was close enough to the restaurant that I could drop the food off before going to the second restaurant. So that was more like a simple back to back delivery.
I also ended up passing on one delivery offer from a certain pizza place in town. It was one of those that has these humongous 24 inch pizzas. I'm not even trying that one.
The bottom line is you have to watch the orders and locations a little more closely.
That was kind of hard to do because of the second biggest problem I had. Dealing with the phone wasn't easy. I had a phone mount, but it wasn't a good one. I nearly destroyed my phone when it flew off the holder. If I do more deliveries, I have to invest in something better.
For me, the Doordash bike option is a game changer.
All of a sudden, bike delivery has gone from something to do to make a few pennies while enjoying the ride to something that can be profitable.
- You don't have the gas costs and the large vehicle overhead. Bikes cost a lot less to maintain. (The flip side is you can't claim the standard mileage deduction when using a bike).
- There are a lot of spaces it's a lot easier and quicker to get around on a bicycle than in a car.
- If the orders are steady, you can make as much in the right places on a bike as you can in a car.
- Bike mode is kind of like Top Dasher. I've never been unable to go available in bike mode, even if the zone is greyed out when in car mode.
- Working multiple apps on a bike is more of a possibility when at least one option (Doordash) on a bike will keep you reasonably busy. While good offers are fewer and further between on the other apps, that doesn't matter as much when you know you'll stay busy with at least one app.
Update: When bike mode came out in Denver, there were only two zones where you could go available in bike mode. They were in the central part of town where things are closer together. Since then they've opened up to other areas of town. However, outside of those central areas, delivery offers are nowhere near as steady if you're in bike mode.
Obviously, 2 hours is a very short amount of time on which to judge everything. That's why this is about my first impression of delivering Doordash on a Bike.
That said, it was far far better than I would have expected. Doordash seems to do it right with bike delivery.
Would it slow down after lunch hour when riding a bike for Doordash? Very possibly. I may never find out, I'm not sure I've got the stamina to do 8 hours on a bike like I can in a car.
That said, this has gone well enough to make me start thinking about an eBike. But even then, I can see more possibilities for multi-apping now that there's a solid primary option.
Bike delivery may well become a bigger part of my overall delivery portfolio.
One warning: DO NOT USE BICYCLE MODE WHEN DRIVING YOUR CAR!
Gig Coach Jake forwarded me this email that a viewer of his forwarded to him.
It can be a temptation to select Bicycle mode when you're in your car. One, as of right now Doordash lets you dash any time in bicycle mode. Two, they are really good at giving shorter deliveries out to people who are in bicycle mode.
That could make you think that you could make even more if you deliver in your car. Don't do it. It can get you deactivated.
While I haven't seen Doordash talk about this in public, this email they sent to a Dasher should be taken as a warning.
Note the line at the bottom:
Failing to accurately identify the mode of transportation being used to perform dashes is grounds for deactivation and will be monitored.Doordash email warning about using Bicycle mode
I have to admit, this makes me a little nervous. That's just because I've already forgotten to toggle back to Car mode. If you switch back and forth, pay careful attention to which mode you are in.
One last update: I mentioned here that I might have to look into doing e-Bike deliveries. Ultimately I converted my Disc Trucker to an e-Bike. Talk about a game changer! I can get around more easily, and I can stay out on my bike longer. You can read more about my experience delivering with an e-Bike here.