Keep Posties Cycling
In 2010, the Royal Mail decided to scrap their fleet of 24,000 bicycles in favour of trolleys and light vans. Only a few thousand are now left and they will all be phased out by 2014. CTC objected to the move because it puts other road users at greater risk and adds to emissions.
There are also plenty of other operators who recognise that bikes are an extremely efficient way to deliver post and other goods.
CTC opposed the plans at the time, and still objects to the loss of Royal Mail's cycle fleet.
Finding the right bike for the post
A solution for Royal Mail would be to find the right bike for the type of deliveries they deal with now - i.e. more parcels. We believe that the traditional post-bike is still an efficient load-carrier, but point out that there are alternative 'cargo bikes' available that could meet Royal Mail's needs, as their own research showed. They simply need to be produced in large enough volumes. Electric bikes may be an option too, although above a certain weight they do fall into the motorbike category.
There are, in fact, plenty of posties totally convinced that they could use a light freight bike, preferring to be outdoors rather than cooped up in a van.
All is not lost...
CTC understands from Royal Mail their vans have a life-span of about five years, so if they find that they are being undercut by other bike-friendly companies or if the health of their workforce suffers, there will be future opportunities to have a rethink. What they are doing is reversible.
CTC was first alerted to the threat of the end of over 100 years of cycle-aided postal deliveries thanks to Re~Cycle, a charity which ships second-hand bikes to Africa where they are repaired and reused. Royal Mail was a major donor of theirs, with Pashley Mailstars from the postal fleet being transferred to Re~Cycle at the end of their working lives.
A letter to the then CTC Vice President Tony Berkeley from Royal Mail’s former chief executive, Adam Crozier, confirmed that Royal Mail planned to replace almost all of its bikes with electric trolleys, shipped out to neighbourhoods by van.
In response, CTC queried Crozier’s assertion that posties on bikes violate health and safety regulations. We also took issue with Mr Crozier’s comment that the increasing weights of postal deliveries necessitated new delivery technologies - this ignored the potential to use cargo bicycles and tricycles, already operating in other European countries and used by courier companies in Britain - for instance DHL, FedEx and Office Depot and TNT, a company that delivers a significant quantity of mail by cycle.
In 2010, we also collected stories from Posties who wanted to keep their cycles. With the Communications Workers' Union, which represents many postal workers, unwilling to take a stand on this issue, CTC was forced to represent the interests of the many postal workers who felt strongly that cycles were (and are) useful to their jobs.