02 April 2010

Brits Slaughter the Postal Bicycle

Cycle Chic: The Royal Danish Post
So the Brits are ditching their bicycle postmen. Royal Mail is calling it "modernisation" and citing "safety" as the reason. Over a century of not only tradition but also role models for urban and rural mobility will soon be lost. It's just mad.

Does anyone know which company will be providing the vans to replace the bicycles? Was there lobby work at play? Wouldn't surprise me.

With a sigh of disgust I just figured I'd chuck a whole bunch of photos of postmen and women in Copenhagen doing what they've done for over a century.

Copenhagen Post Posten

Postal Service Sleetstorm

The Post Doesn't Stop Harbour Postman

Royal Danish Post Postal Worker

Postal Stylish Postal

Postal Carriers Autumn Postman

Royal Post

Cycle Chic as Danish Stamp danish stamp 2
And here's a spot of Cycle Chic on the left and a stamp celebrating Danish postal workers.


Clever said...

i asked a mail delivery person here in portland, oregon about whether she would be permitted to use a bicycle on the job. her current mode is to drive, park, put a big bag over her shoulder, and walk house to house until the bag was empty, then drive a few more blocks, park, and repeat.

"a bicycle? i have this bag to carry..." "well, your bike would carry it." "it would fall over." "well, with the right stand..." "it would get stolen, and it would be unsafe."

kind of stunned at the lack of imagination.

Frits B said...

To be fair, the Dutch mail is moving in the same direction. Mailmen used to deliver both letters and small packages by bike, but nowadays even small packages, those that still fit the mailbox, are delivered by van. Something to do with physical exertion and not being allowed to carry heavy loads. Health and safety rules - the inverse of Muscles from Brussels.

Chas said...

Our postmen are asked to deliver ever increasing rounds, so the company will just give them a van (manufactured overseas) to carry more and block up the roads.

Meanwhile Pashley (a UK bicycle manufacture)looses a large order and more British jobs go down the pan.

Anonymous said...

Management at Royal Mail often behave as if they are on a different planet to the rest of us. They so called efficiency saving generally result is a poorer service, this one will be no different.

Oldfool said...

Politicians ultimately are responsible for these decisions. Why would one think there is a thought process? In the U.S. the postal service is not a place to look for imagination.
At least when the crunch really hits those in charge will be able to convert their fleets of vans to bicycles saving money and providing better health and welfare for the workers. What you want to bet it will be treated as a new revolutionary idea? It will only take 10 to 20 years to completely forget it had been done before.

Green Idea Factory said...

Clever: If you see this postwoman again will you be armed with some educational materials?

Frits B: Ha ha, what this have to with "fair"?

From that linked article and also what Chas says the first question may be to ask "what in the hell is being snail mailed these days?"

The first thing to do to environmentalize cargo logistics is to reduce the amount of crap sent around. The internet was supposed to change that in relation to letters, but has it?

The second is to organize delivery efficiently, but in this case are job cuts creating the heavier loads necessary per delivery person? Whatever the reason, that 32kg limit is mentioned and so were electric-assisted bikes considered as a solution (also for longer distances and hills)? New EU regulations might even permit 500w motors (but then we have to worry about Mikael calling them "lazy letter carriers").

Were health issues taken into account? Many thousands of people now not riding their bikes every day? Or time waste since now these people might want to go to the gym if their ride to work is not so long....(As you can see in that linked article, they had already dangerized their delivery service with helmets and vests (or are these elective accessories?). So did people see the postal carries with helmets and vests and think "oh, that IS dangerous!".

Here are some images from Germany http://www.flickr.com/photos/67855182@N00/3047747888/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/67855182@N00/973412129/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/sandrosamigos/2372641685/ and the Netherlands: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21275648@N05/2470997723/

Finally, what about the effects of things like on adultery http://www.copenhagenize.com/2008/08/how-to-promote-cycling-without.html

wee folding bike said...

I want to know what will happen to all the second hand Pashleys.

townmouse said...

I have an even more cynical explanation. Royal Mail, like most organisations with a decent pension plan, has a huge pension deficit. Cycling ex-posties probably live longer than their van-based counterparts, even taking into account one or two of them getting knocked off their bikes. So some actuary somewhere has done the sums ... (Actually, I really hope this isn't true, because on the whole I like people and prefer not to be cynical about even senior managers but you do have to wonder sometimes)

blighty rider said...

Wee folding bike, the Pashley bikes, supposedly, end up being donated to Africa. However some report that vast amounts are rusting in storage yards at railway stations.

There is probably some political pressure to aid the ailing van industry. Ford Transit, I don't know if they are the same name elsewhere, are moving manufacturing to Spain from the UK.

Not all bikes are going and the new carts will be made in China, although Pashley do a nice line in carts.

SteveL said...

Good coverage in road.cc - read the comments

alex said...

The stoke monkey would have got around the problem of the weight of a loaded bike on a hill:

As for health and safety, as has been stated, it's a false arguement to claim that cycling is dangerous, something dodgy going on here.

Chris said...

It doesn't stack up. By their own figures in an internal health and safety audit on Royal Mail's own website, bicycle accidents come in fifth behind:

1. Slips, trips and falls
2. Animal attacks
3. Stepping on/striking against something
4. Lifting and handling

It stinks doesn't it? The postmen are even trying to organise a campaign to let them keep their bikes.


Anneke said...

@ Frits: I work in the mail in the Netherlands, and the delivery of packages and mail has been seperated for economical reasons. It has nothing to do with health and safety, mail on itself is often heavier than a package, sure letters are light, but if you have to carry fifty or so in your arms you definately develope muscles. :) Per neighbourhood you'd have maybe two or three packages at most, while every house gets a few letters.

So it's not the physical strain. It really is the splitting up of the sorting of the mail and the packages, it is cheaper to do this seperately, and it doesn't really make sense to first sort it, and then put it together again, transport it and then sort it all over again.

Almost all post is still delivered by bike, and there is no incentive to change this at all. In fact recently I got a new offer from the post to buy a new bike (they'd pay half of it, and the other half would be refundable).

Kathryn Hall said...

Can anyone direct me to information regarding the geometry and tubing for these bikes? Also, the racks.

Many thanks in advance.


Green Idea Factory said...

@Chris: You mean keep their bikes for working? Do you have more info on this campaign?

Chris said...

Here's the article by a postman suggesting that there should be a national campaign to keep posties on their bikes.


Green Idea Factory said...

The writer of that article in the Guardian is "Roy Mayall", a pseudonym for a postal worker who has been in the job for about five years and works in a delivery office somewhere in the south-east of England. He writes a blog at roymayall.wordpress.com

townmouse said...

There was a petition on the No 10 website - in fact, I think I read about it here. Unfortunately, it's just closed (600-odd signatures), so there'd have to be another one - it's a shame the organisers of the petition didn't join up with a blogger like Roy Mayall (who has quite an influential readership) while it was still live.

Green Idea Factory said...

Lowlanders are getting some fresh kit: http://www.bike-eu.com/news/4020/dhl-on-the-road-with-bikes-by-accell-pro.html

Sirius7dk said...

The Royal Mail might think that bicycles are ineffective but that is not shared by all companies delivering stuff, here are some fresh news from London:


Rasmus Jensen

Johan said...

Here in Finland the mail delivery company increases the use of electrically assisted bicycles. The news told today that nowadays one third of all the working bicycles are e-bikes. The elder postmen or -women are offered these bikes.

There is a belief that these e-bikes will replace also more and more cars in the future.

This I think is a much better alternative than replacing the bikes with cars. A car is a very clumsy vehicle when you have to stop (and find parking space!) and then turn on and off the engine every 100m.

The mail delivery company here also did big investments in electric cars in the early 90´s and set up a goal to replace 10% of all the cars with e-cars towards the millennium. The project was though ruined by the halt of the Elcat manufacturing company.

The Rambler said...

Here's an American designed cargo bike with the weight load transferred to the back in order to increase load capacity. This guy's trying to bring Dutch biking culture to the US but yah,a lot of people only think of bikes in term of recreation. http://www.madsencycles.com/