Doordash does allow bicycle delivery in certain cities. In the right places bicycle delivery can be a great way to make money without throwing it all away on gas.
Can you make as much money delivering on a bike as you can using your car? Is Doordash on a bike a good way to save money? We'll take a look at all things Dashing on a bike. I'll share my experiences and we'll look at the pro's and cons of bicycle delivery.
Then you can use that information to get a feel for if it works for you.
In this article, we'll look at:
Can you deliver on a bike with Doordash?
Doordash does offer the ability for bike deliveries in certain cities and metro areas throughout the United States and Canada. In those areas Dashers can choose Bike or E-Bike mode, and then Doordash will send orders that are appropriate for that method of transportation.
There are several areas that don't offer a bike mode. That's where you could say bike delivery as a gig worker is a bit of a grey area.
On the one side, Doordash can not legally control the manner in which independent contractors perform deliveries. Many would take that to mean they can't prohibit you from delivering by bike in those areas.
However, outside the bike delivery zones, Doordash won't filter orders that are more appropriate for bicycle delivery. That means that a Dasher on a bike would have to be more selective in the orders they accept or reject.
How does Doordash on a bike work?
At the bottom of the map on the Dasher app, a delivery driver can select their mode of transportation. When a Doordash biker selects bike mode, Doordash then filters orders that would be more appropriate for bike delivery.
Generally, Doordash only offers shorter distance deliveries when you are in bike mode. In my experience, I rarely see an offer that is going more than three miles. That range may vary by market.
Doordash may also limit the type of orders they send to you when delivering on bike. Extra large orders that are harder to transport via bicycle may be less likely to be sent out.
I said they “may” limit the orders. I've had a number of times I've received offers such as large pizza orders or deliveries with multiple drinks. It's a good idea to pay special attention to the details of Doordash orders to see if the trip makes sense.
Personally, when I receive an offer, I'll look at the Doordash widget to get a list of items before accepting a delivery. That way I have a better idea of whether it's reasonable to accept a delviery.
From there, it's not much different than delivery with a car, except for using your bike. You'll head to the local restaurants on your bike, pick up the delivery, then take it to the customer. The main difference is how you store and transport the food.
Keeping the food secure and hot (or sometimes cold) can be more challenging as a bike rider. That's why it's important to have a good way to secure the food, which we'll talk about further in a moment.
How much money can you make delivering on a bike with Doordash?
I've found bike delivery to be a great way to make money without the larger expenses that go with driving a car. In the right places at the right times, I've found I can make as much or more as I could make when driving.
The pay model for Doordash bike delivery is the same as it is with car deliveries. Doordash offers a base pay, usually starting at $2.50 per delivery and sometimes increasing for longer distance deliveries. They also offer incentives such as Peak Pay which is additional pay per delivery often offered during peak delivery hours. Customer tips are also included.
Based on my experience, profits for bike delivery are comparable with car deliveries. I find that I don't make quite as much hourly in gross pay, but expenses are also lower.
Average pay per delivery seems to be lower on bicycle than with car deliveries. That is often because the orders tend to be smaller. Smaller orders often have smaller tips.
By summer of 2022, Doordash had cut way back on how much extra they were paying for longer deliveries. What that means is that delivery riders are far less likely to get much more than the minimum base pay.
On the flip side, the shorter distances mean orders can be completed more quickly. That means that more deliveries in a given time frame can offset the smaller pay per delivery.
Where can you Dash on a bike?
Doordash doesn't offer a list of which markets have bike delivery and which ones don't.
Generally, bike delivery is only going to be available in urban areas and larger cities. They focus on delivery zones where there are frequent short distance deliveries that can be completed quickly and easily via bicycle.
In very large cities with congested downtown areas (like New York City, Chicago and San Francisco) bicycle deliveries are often easier to accomplish than car, because parking isn't usually an issue with your bike. If you have a good bike infrastructure with bike lanes etc, bicycle delivery can be a great way to go.
I deliver in the Denver area. Most times if I select Bike mode, there are only two delivery zones available in the central part of town. From time to time other zones in the region do become available (however, I've noticed much longer wait times on deliveries).
If there are areas in your region that are easier to get around on bike than by car, that might be the right place for you to try out bike deliveries.
How to get started with Doordash bike delivery
First off, there's no such thing as a Doordash bike delivery position.
Doordash does not hire employees. Instead, they contract with you as an independent contractor. What that means is, you're providing delivery services for Doordash as an independent business.
In other words, there's no position here. It's not a job. This is a business opportunity, either as a side gig to make a little extra money, or something more substantial. It's up to you.
The main thing you have to do to get started is to get signed on with Doordash as an independent contractor. If your area has bicycle delivery available, you can do so without submitting vehicle information.
The main Doordash requirements are that you be at least 18 years of age, have a social security number, a valid driver's license and can pass a background check.
Doordash states that you need a valid driver's license and insurance. However, they don't require the insurance information on the background check if you don't plan to drive, and my understanding is that in that situation you can just upload a copy of your state-issued ID instead.
Pros and cons of bicycle delivery
The good news is, delivery by bike can be a great way to make some extra cash or even a regular income. The bad news is there can be some challenges.
Below are some of the pros and cons of being a Doordash bike courier.
The Pros of delivering by bike for Doordash
- Bike delivery is often far less costly than using a car. Obviously, with fuel prices skyrocketing, not buying gas is a good thing. You also don't have to worry about auto insurance, and wear and tear isn't nearly the thing with a bike that it is with a car.
- Bicycle delivery is friendlier to the environment. A bicycle doesn't have the carbon footprint or emissions that you get with a car.
- It's often easier to get around on a bike in congested areas. I find that downtown and in heavy traffic I can get to local businesses and restaurants much quicker on bike than I can driving my car.
- Parking is rarely an issue. You don't have to circle the block looking for a parking spot. Often you can ride right up to the door of the restaurant, and that can shorten your delivery times.
- I can dash anytime in bike mode. In the two central delivery zones in my market that always have bike options available, I'm always able to Dash Now when in bike mode. I've never seen a grey zone when I'm in bike mode. I have no idea if every bike delivery market is this way or if it's just mine.
- You're getting paid to ride your bike. There are times that I don't even care how much I'm making. I love riding, and getting paid to do so is a fantastic bonus.
The Cons of Doordash bike delivery
- It's often harder to take care of the food. You're either keeping the food in a backpack or in a delivery bag on a bike rack. It's harder to keep the food level and easier for it to get shaken up or disturbed.
- Larger and stacked orders are trickier. Doordash does still often send multiple orders, and it's a bit more challenging to either carry all the orders or to keep them separate when on a bike delivery.
- Weather is a bigger factor. Rain, snow, and hot weather can all make bike delivery far more challenging than on a car. Keeping warm in cold weather, or trying not to be too gross and sweaty in hot weather can limit how much you deliver.
- Customers sometimes aren't real crazy about getting their food delivered on bike. I've seen a few sideways glances from customers. They may not be too trusting of whether the food is in good condition, whether it stayed warm, or if it got to them as quickly as it would have via car.
- Breakdowns can happen more frequently. Tires go flat more frequently. Things like chains or cables break. I've had a handful of bike delivery sessions cut short by mechanical issues.
- Smaller orders often mean less pay. Bike deliveries consist of a lot more single meal deliveries, which means smaller average order amount, which often means a smaller tip.
- Figuring out what to do with your bike can be tricky. There aren't many quick ways to lock up your bike at the restaurant or the customer's. Do you take the bike in with you?
- You can't write off miles for your bike on taxes. The standard mileage allowance doesn't apply to bicycles or other two wheeled vehicles. You can however claim a portion of the actual cost of using your bike.
- There's a quirky deactivation risk with bike mode. Doordash has stated they can deactivate you for delivering with your car while in bike mode. That's because some drivers are tempted to use bike mode to get shorter trips or better delivery block availability. However, when you do both, it's really easy to forget which mode you're in.
From my experience, I would tell you that these are the four most important things you need for bike delivery:
- A good bike
- Some way to hold the food (and drinks)
- A good phone holder
- A quick way to lock up or secure your bike.
A good bike
This one seems a little obvous.
The important thing here is that you want something that you can stand delivering on for several hours.
While you could go rent a metro bike share bike or get a cheap mountain bike at Walmart, sometimes you might discover that sitting on either of those for more than a half hour can become quite uncomfortable.
You want to find a good bike that is comfortable and that you can ride for awhile. If you are in a hilly area, you'll want something that you can gear down in. Sometimes a road bike can get you around more easily and quickly than other types, but then a hybrid bike, touring or cargo bike might have more storage ability.
I converted my Surly from a more traditional bike into an electric bike. It's been ideal for both comfort and for getting around more quickly.
Some way to hold the food (and drinks)
A lot of drivers use food delivery backpacks. You can often fit a lot of food in them, however, small orders may be less secure.
I usually have a backpack as well as a small delivery bag. I have a large rack on the front of my bike and secure the delivery bag onto that. Most orders go in that bag.
You also want to have a way to keep drinks secure. Some backpacks have good side pockets that will hold drinks well. You can get rack mounted drink holders or coolers that will hold drinks a bit more securely.
A good phone holder
I made two mistakes early on when I first started delivery. One was not having a phone holder. The other was getting the wrong phone holder.
I started out keeping my phone in my pocket. Unfortunately I missed too many offers that way. I also ‘pocket accepted' way too many offers as well.
Then I bought a handlebar mount that was spring loaded. One good bump later and my phone was on the ground getting run over by cars behind me.
Find a secure way to hold your phone. I picked up a case mounted holder made by Quadlock, where the phone case has a way to latch onto the phone holder. That keeps my phone where I can see it, and it keeps it secure.
A quick way to lock up or secure your bike.
Bike theft is a major problem across the country. In the time it takes to run in and pick up an order from the restaurant, your bike can be gone.
The flip side is, locking and unlocking a bike is time consuming.
Finding a bike lock that will let you quickly lock and unlock your bike can be huge. I use a foldable lock right now that is easy to store. If someone could come up with a key fob for something like that, I'd be the first to buy it.
Comparing Doordash bike delivery to other food delivery services
When I first started out with bike deliveries, Doordash didn't have any options. Uber Eats and Postmates were the only ones that did. Grubhub did not offer any options, and to my understanding still doesn't.
Postmates was the easiest. You could select your transportation mode in the Doordash delivery app and they would shift their dispatching accordingly. In my area, Postmates wasn't very busy, and they were eventually bought up by Uber Eats.
Uber Eats doesn't have the ability to let you switch back and forth between car and bike delivery. They told me I actually had to create a second account just for bikes.
For the longest time on Uber Eats, delivery offers on my bike account weren't much different than on my car account. I was getting offers for very long distance deliveries.
In my area, it pretty much comes down to Uber Eats or Doordash. Uber Eats usually has more higher paying deliveries, but they also have much longer waits between offers. However, that's a difference that could be specific to my market.
Personally, I run both when doing bike deliveries. I'll turn both apps on and when one gives me a good offer I'll shut the other down.
Usually when I'm on my bike I run both. My experience is that I get much more frequent offers from Doordash, but better average pay on Uber Eats. Generally I'll turn both apps on until one of them sends me an order I would accept, and then I'll shut the other down til I'm done.
My first impressions when Doordash introduced bike mode for deliveries.
I wrote the following in August of 2019 when Doordash first introduced bicycle mode on the driver app. Up until that time, bike delivery was a far less profitable option in my market.
At that time, the only food delivery app options for bike delivery were Uber Eats and Postmates. In 2019, Uber Eats didn't tell you where the delivery was going. There were several times I'd find out after picking up the food that the customer was six miles away or longer. I'd have to unassign. Postmates just didn't have many offers come up.
In those circumstances, making enough to equal minimum wage on bike deliveries was difficult because of those two things. I'd still do some bike deliveries more for riding my bike than making money.
Doordash introducing a bike mode was a game changer for me. It was a huge deal.
Here's more of my thoughts when that happened.
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.
(Followup: I've since had a couple that I did try – it basically consisted of me holding the pizza bag in one hand while heading to the customer. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't fast, but it worked.)
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.
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. That was a bigger game changer than Doordash bike mode! 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.
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