Q&A Session – UberEATS in London, Canada via DIY Electric Bicycle

Ben's DIY ebike on a bridge in London, Ontario

This Post’s Instigation

I should probably do a full blog post on this” was the first thing that came to mind when I started responding to a few questions people had (Lindsey and Kurt) on the London Ontario Frostbike Facebook Group. The group’s mission is: “…to foster a culture of winter cycling in London Ontario. We’re a community of people who learn from each other, share our experiences (good and bad), and won’t let a few snowflakes stop our bike habit.”

The Facebook page was created by Ben Cowie (owner of the London Bicycle Café) and is a small but friendly and helpful community that I just joined this season.

Question 1 – Do you UberEATS on your bike in London?

Question. Lindsey: You do uber eats on your bike?

Answer. Yes. I don’t ever feel pressured for time… although, I have to say I cheat a bit. More on that in Question 4.

I built myself a DIY ebike so that I could travel further than I normally would and the motor helps when I hit a big hill or need to keep up with traffic. Since building the bike, I haven’t needed to use cars much…

Now, would I be able to do UberEATS on my 38-year-old motorless road bike? I think I’d still be able to but I’m not sure if the food would stay as upright in my “box” backpack as it ought to be, especially with the drop bars… but many people in the big cities do this so I’m assuming it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Ben wearing a big UberEATS backpack that looks like a giant box

Soooo, yes, I think I’d be able to do it if I stripped the road bike down to a nice light weight and had the tires at the top end of their inflation levels for the least amount of rolling resistance.

Meanwhile, in the winter, I’ll probably stick to my hybrid-tire ebike and use a knobby studded front tire (these Ice Spiker Pro’s) when there’s a chance of ice on the ground. Honestly though, this winter hasn’t seen much of any snow at all so I’ve only biked with my studded front tire on for a total of four days. More on winter cycling tips soon.

Questions 2 – I’ve only heard of people doing this in bigger cities?

Question. Lindsey: “I had only heard of people doing this in Toronto or bigger cities.”

Answer. From the start, I’ve actually had a bunch of difficulties getting approved by UberEATS to bike in London. I’d tried in July 2018 but gave up fairly quickly because there didn’t seem to be much in the way of account support in London when my account simply didn’t work. I went to Montreal and then and there was the first time I was told to go to a physical Uber Greenlight location to finish my registration. I didn’t know those existed before that.

After coming back to London, I decided to try getting my UberEATS account up and running for the London, Ontario region again and ended up finding out that there are temporary “Greenlight Spots” that pop up once or twice a week in London. From what I’ve seen, they skip around different classrooms at Fanshawe College Campus.

Here’s the link to Uber Greenlight Spots – Locations and hours in Ontario:
https://www.uber.com/en-CA/drive/resources/ontario-info-sessions/
Scroll down to find London’s ever-changing times and locations.

Question 3 – How do you find it?

Question. Lindsey: How do you find it?

Answer. Generally? It’s fun and worth it for me because it’s a great excuse to get out on my bike and explore the city, going to places that I’ve never been before and probably never would have if it weren’t for needing to do Deliveries.

I WOULDN’T do UberEATS in a car. The costs associated with that are insane when you run your “Revenue minus Expenses equals Profit” calculations, but on top of that, more than half the reason I do it is for the experience and the workout… and with a car, you get no exercise at all. Lose, lose, lose situation with no wins for me.

The more detailed story-style answer is:

When I was recently in Montreal for two months, I fell in love with having an excuse to go out and bike in the evenings and get paid a bit to do it. The pay isn’t “that” great but if you do it during peak hours, it’s about $15-25/hour.

If you were to do deliveries non-stop throughout the day, it ends up being less per hour because there isn’t always “surge pricing”, so in my opinion, it’s not something that you would sustainably be able to do for 8 to 10 hours per day and make $20/hour. Instead, I suggest “working” during what UberEATS calls the “Busiest times“, which is when the majority of demand occurs: during lunch (11am-2pm) and dinner (5pm-9pm).

Question 4 – Are you able to cover enough ground quickly enough?

Question. Lindsey: Are you able to cover enough ground and quick enough?

Answer. Yes I am able to. Although I basically answered this in Question 1, I’ll expand on this specifically.

No matter if you have an ebike or a regular bike, you’ll be able to do this job via bicycle in London IF YOU’RE A FIT CYCLIST with hybrid or road bike tires. Unfortunately, because of the way London is so sprawled out, it’s less about weaving through Montreal or Toronto traffic, making judgement calls on red lights and stop signs, but more about finding the easiest route with the fewest hills – even though Google Maps is the one that typically navigates for you.

When I was in Montreal, I felt like UberEATS accounted for me being on a bicycle and gave me delivery time estimates that were pretty accurate to how long it took me (I was often much faster because of the motor’s assistance). In London, I feel like both the directions and delivery time estimates are car-based and less accurate for me on a bicycle here.

Question 4 – What are the delivery boundaries?

Question. Kurt: I was tempted to do UE too. What’s the delivery boundaries?

Answer. Good question, and this UberEATS page answers these questions too, but here they are in Ben-style:

This is London’s UberEATS Delivery Area

Map of London’s UberEATS Delivery Area

There are a bunch of restaurants who are signed up with UberEATS spread across this entire service area. The map above shows where delivery with Uber is currently available as of December 2018.

This is London’s UberEATS Busiest Area:

Map of London’s UberEATS Busiest Areas

Uber says this area has “a high number of requests come from restaurants located in the above neighbourhoods.” This essentially means that when starting your UberEATS session, you’ll want to head towards this area. This also applies once you finish a delivery which may be outside of this highlighted area.

Question 6 – Do I need to return to the core area after a delivery?

Question. Kurt: Is it downtown places using apps or are you picking up from wherever you’re around? If I were to drop something off in the North end, would there be another pickup around there to do as well or would I need to return to the core area?

Answer. I’d say yes for the most part. I personally just start heading back to downtown as soon as I’m done my delivery and by the time I’m close to or waiting downtown for 30 seconds, another Pick-Up(s) pops up for me to accept.

I did have one time when I was making my way Westbound down Huron Street to downtown, almost got there but got a Pick-Up request from 6km exactly back the way I had just come from. #exercise

Helpful London-Specific UberEATS Links

This is the “Delivery in London, Ont” Page that has most of what you need to know laid out on one page:
https://www.uber.com/en-CA/drive/london-ont/delivery/
Sometimes it’s hard to find, so that’s the link.

Uber Greenlight Spots – Locations and hours in Ontario:
https://www.uber.com/en-CA/drive/resources/ontario-info-sessions/

Why I Ride For UberEATS

I mostly do it to get out and about and explore the cities that I’m in – and it’s quite chill and very relaxed. I don’t do it for the money, though it’s a nice incentive to throw that money into savings or into the occasional bike repair or upgrade.

There’s some math and science somewhere on the interwebs that states how much money you save when you exercise… and I’m not sure of the numbers, but I know that I feel great on the days that I go out and bike a lot and feel less-than-stellar on the days which I can’t bike as much.

Any Questions?

So that’s that. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below and I might just add them to the main post. Cheers!

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ben in red shorts on a yellow ebike in a snow storm with a bright yellow jacket on, laughing

Ben Durham

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