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Posties tell their stories about delivering by bike

Chris Peck's picture
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As part of CTC's campaign to keep posties cycling, we've been collecting the stories from postmen and women about their experiences and why they want to keep their bikes.
Cartoon by David de Berker - Keep our Posties cycling
Cartoon by David de Berker - Keep our Posties cycling

From Redvanman in Northern England:

"I am a postal worker who delivers mail aided by a Pashley Mailstar bicycle.

The total weight of the mailbags I deliver range between 35 and 76 Kg depending on the weight of mail on a given day spread across between three and six bags.  Some of my colleagues have reported to having up to ten bags to deliver in a day.

I find the bicycle a useful means of transporting myself and mail to the intended addressees.  I normally cycle from the delivery office to a strategic position in the round with one bag weighing up to the maximum permitted weight of 16 Kg.  From there, I proceed on foot with that bag delivering its contents.  When that bag is empty, I go by bike to a designated pick up point (normally a post office, pub, shop, doctor's surgery or a lock-up) to collect subsequent bags, which have been previously taken out by van, to serve the following parts of the round. 

Sometimes there is a need to deliver out of sequence of the sorting frame at the delivery due to timed deliveries.  Occasionally, there is the requirement to assist with another round because the round has been split due to absence or low volume.

The use of trolley would severely reduce the flexibility of the use of bicycles. The trolley and delivery officer would need to transported to the round by van which more often than not have space for only one passenger.  The timing of any round using a van is dependent on the time of the last delivery officer using that van to finish. - this is more crucial where the round is served by 'crew bus' (van with additional seating).  Any dead-walk (areas of the round with gaps between premises or streets where premises exist on one side of the road only) would be more time consuming.  A postman on foot without a trolley, thereby having two free hands, can check through mail for the next address and arrange it to go straight onto the addressee letterbox rather than having to stop and separate the mail.  A trolley with a load weighing in excess of 50Kg may not handle as easily as a bicycle with a maximum of 16Kg especially with small plastic wheel crossing kerbs.  Trolleys may be more of a liability on sections of road where there may be no pavement, whereas a cycle moves with flow of the traffic.

Finally, as a cyclist, other road users often give up their right of way in favour of the peddling postie, something that does not happen when I am in uniform going to or from home on my normal steed.  As for incidents involving postal workers using bicycles for deliveries, I have not seen any statistics to indicate there is higher risk to postal workers on bikes than postal workers in vans or walking with trolleys."

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