We are in 2019 and there is no way we can ignore the looming presence of climate change and environmental challenges. As mentioned earlier, wastage is an inalienable reality but we need to step up with creative solutions. The same principle applies to the enormous problem of air pollution, given the role our delivery partners play in the ecosystem. Which is the reason why are taking steps to build a future that creates more tangible value and leaves less carbon footprint.
We have 1.5+ lac delivery partners with a daily addition of ~150 to the collective fleet. On an average, a million trips are carried out daily by these delivery partners in order to make sure our users receive their favourite food items on time. These journeys translate to approximately 4.4 million kilometers a day. To give you a relative context, that’s more than 11 times the distance between earth and moon. With such an astronomical figure at play, one can only imagine the pollutants being discharged by the delivery fleet in totality.
So, how are we going to tackle this monster of an issue? Well, as usual, with baby steps.
This year, we started actively introducing bicycles – both mechanical and electric – into our fleet. Earlier, this particular space was occupied only by motorcycles. The idea is to not only significantly push the fleet towards electric mobility and cut the environmental damage, but also increase employment opportunities for those who own bicycles. Not to mention the traffic ease in crowded places and smoother navigation in areas with narrower lanes.
As of now, mechanical bikes are to be owned by delivery partners whereas e-cycles are being provided to aspiring ones in partnership with bicycle entities such as Mobycy, e-HIRAN, TNT, Yulu and Zoomcar’s PEDL. We are working closely with our vendor partners to raise the scale of e-cycle adoption. For us, the idea is to convert electric mobility into sustainable mobility.
Within the next two years, we are aiming to convert 40% of our fleet to power-assisted bikes. These delivery partners are bound to be allotted shorter order distance — an average of 2.5 km — to ensure faster delivery. As of today, we already have 5000 cyclists operating in 12 cities in India, with the majority of the fleet pushing the pedal in Delhi NCR.
Our delivery partners are a critical part of the online ordering business and their safety and welfare continue to be a priority. Hence, we are ensuring that our delivery fleet on bicycles (whether mechanical or e-cycle) is provided with an ergonomic delivery bag along to ensure comfortability. Moreover, they are diligently trained for the job as well as educated on road safety norms in the Zomato Rider University.
We are hopeful about this ongoing development thanks to the encouraging feedback by our cycling delivery partners. After all, the economics is in their favour. Compared to motorbikes, the maintenance cost is negligible and there are no license requirements either, which in turn, increases their employment feasibility as well as earning potential.
With these measures (and much more ahead), we remain dedicated to chipping away our environmental concerns while generating employment niches.