Delivering bad news: Bristol posties to have their bicycles taken away

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Written by:   | Posted 29-April-2015 12:19

Delivering bad news: Bristol posties to have their bicycles taken away

The days of seeing postmen and women cycling through the streets dropping off letters with a ding of the bicycle bell and a flick of the postbag are now over, as Royal Mail has taken away the last remaining post bikes in Bristol.

Welcomed by many hard-working Royal Mail workers who battle bulky boxes and parcels on a daily basis, the decision has caused a few raised eyebrows in light of Bristol’s European Green Capital status.

The Royal Mail began swapping two wheels for four in 2010.

And Bristol, or more specifically the Patchway depot, was one of the last cities in the country to surrender the post bike when the change came in to force on January 1.

Royal Mail spokeswoman Val Bodden said: “Royal Mail has made a number of changes to delivery methods as part of a £2 billion modernisation of its entire operation. This is part of one of the biggest transformations undertaken in UK industry and enables us to respond to changes within the postal market.”

The privatised company made the decision as a reaction to an increase in the number of parcels being delivered and a decrease in letters. By the end of last year only 12 postal workers were still using bikes in Bristol and they have been offered high capacity trollies or one of a new fleet of Vauxhall vans in their place.

“The [bikes] are being replaced with vans and trolleys that enable us to take the weight off the shoulders of our staff and therefore deliver mail more securely and safely,” Ms Bodden added.

“All Royal Mail bicycles are recycled once their service with us is over.”

The change has also been supported by the Communication Workers Union, which has said the removal of bikes will improve the health and wellbeing of Royal Mail workers.

A CWU spokesperson said: “I think people and the media get fixated on dog attacks, but the biggest health and safety issue for postal workers is muscular and skeletal issues due to carrying heavy parcels and packages all day long, five or six days a week.

“I can see why people might get nostalgic about the bikes but you must remember this is not cycling for leisure, this is hard graft.”

The use of vans and trollies is also more efficient than making deliveries by bike.

The spokesperson added: “We as a union have worked with the Royal Mail on the bike issue and we are happy with the outcomes. The vans have relatively low CO2 emissions and the trollies are secure and allow workers to take out larger loads rather than making lots of trips back and forth to the depot.

“I would say that the majority of our members have really welcomed the new system and are really pleased with the changes, but as with any change, we have had a few who are unhappy.”

A brief history
Postal workers first began using bikes to deliver mail in 1880 more than 200 years after the early beginnings of the postal service in the UK.
From 1971 the contract for the manufacture of postal bikes – with the rack and basket built into the frame – has been taken by Stratford-upon-Avon firm Pashley Cycles.
Since 2000, more than 8,000 old delivery bicycles have been shipped to Africa by the charity Re-Cycle.

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