Safety concerns a prime reason behind phasing out of Royal Mail bikes

Royal Mail also rejects calls to allow deliveries to be made by cargo trikes instead

by Simon_MacMichael   March 30, 2010  

postie.jpg

The Royal Mail has confirmed long-standing rumours that the traditional postal worker’s bike is to be phased out, citing the dangers faced by cyclists on Britain’s roads as a prime motivation behind the decision, and has rejected calls to use cargo tricyles instead of vans to deliver letters and parcels.

Yesterday, the Labour peer Lord Berkeley, secretary of the All-Parliamentary Cycling Group and a critic of the move to dispense with postal delivery bikes, revealed to the House of Lords that Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail had written to explain the reasons behind the decision.

According to Mr Crozier’s letter, which was written as part of a reply to a Parliamentary Question raised by Lord Berkeley earlier this year, the Royal Mail’s fleet of 24,000 bicycles “pose the wider safety risk associated with busy street networks, where the rider is exposed to greater risk than other vehicle users."

Mr Crozier claimed that through replacing the bikes with vans or, in areas that motor vehicles find it difficult to access, electric trolleys, the Royal Mail expected “to see a reduction in the number of delivery accidents as a result of our rollout of this new delivery technology, as a substantial proportion of accidents are currently linked to the use of bicycles on busy road networks."

He added that the Royal Mail’s bicycles, which are made by Stratford-upon-Avon firm Pashley, can carry 32kg of mail spread between front and rear panniers, and that the vans and trolleys would be able to carry an increased load, and rejected a suggestion from Lord Berkeley that cargo tricycles could provide a suitable, and more environmentally-friendly, alternative.

“Royal Mail has previously assessed the viability of manual freight tricycles and concluded that they would be inappropriate for the type and range of deliveries our people make,” Mr Crozier explained.

“The use of freight tricycles is problematic unless terrain is extremely flat,” he continued, “which is why they are commonly used by Dutch and Danish postal operators.”

“Of course, the UK consists of far more variable terrain over which our postmen and women must deliver, making the use of manual freight tricycles impractical,” added Mr Crozier. “They also have the potential to present an increased risk to the user,” he concluded, “as they are slow-moving, difficult to manoeuvre, and the rider is positioned closer to ground level than other road users.”

Lord Berkeley, a keen cyclist, asked Lord Hunt, Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, whether he agreed that the Royal Mail’s decision was “a bit of a slap in the eye for the Government's cycling policy, which encourages cycling rather than the driving of vans,” to which Lord Hunt replied that while active travel and cycling should be encouraged, it needed to be borne in mind that the decision was aimed principally at improving the efficiency of the Post Office.

Although Mr Crozier claims that the phasing out of bicycles and replacing them with vans would result in greater safety for postal workers out on their rounds, one peer, Lord Colwyn, voiced concerns that replacing them with vans might create a greater hazard to other road users, telling the House of Lords that the last two occasions he had been knocked off his bike, Royal Mail vans had been at fault.
 

21 user comments

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Well, what residential areas NEED is yet more delivery vans staffed by overworked people working to unrealistic targets, isn't it? Stands to reason.

FFS.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [418 posts]
30th March 2010 - 11:38

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This is where Charlie needs to stick his oar in, rather than getting all worked up about architecture.

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [302 posts]
30th March 2010 - 12:36

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I've had several close calls with Post Office vans. They are amongst the worst offenders with regard to road safety and even rank ahead of BMWs in terms of aggressive and unpredictable driving standards. On one memorable occasion I was on a cyclepath in London on a backstreet going round a corner when a van came barrelling round the corner in the other direction, oblivious to the fact that it was a one-way street and I was going the right way while he wasn't. I can remember the look of shock on the driver's face as he saw me at the last second and had to swerve. I had a very close call when I was where I was supposed to be and supposedly, somewhere safe.

Just how the Post Office will meet its targets on reducing carbon emissions and reducing costs with this ill-conceived plan escapes me.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2125 posts]
30th March 2010 - 12:46

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This is depressing news.

I wonder if Royal Mail has considered that making deliveries by bicycle increases the fitness of its workforce, which ought to mean they miss fewer days through illness.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1330 posts]
30th March 2010 - 13:29

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OldRidgeback wrote:
I've had several close calls with Post Office vans. They are amongst the worst offenders with regard to road safety and even rank ahead of BMWs in terms of aggressive and unpredictable driving standards. On one memorable occasion I was on a cyclepath in London on a backstreet going round a corner when a van came barrelling round the corner in the other direction, oblivious to the fact that it was a one-way street and I was going the right way while he wasn't.

Agree, they are the worst drivers ever. For them the indicator is an ornament to their van, that's it.

By the way, are you talking about Horseferry Road (London Docklands) by any chance? Sounds like one of the encounters that I had on that road with one of those red devil vans.

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

LondonCalling's picture

posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
30th March 2010 - 13:32

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This is a typical knee-jerk reaction to the press headlines. How can they not assess the danger to other road users, the pollution, the noise, etc. Me thinks that this Crozier bloke might have some friends leasing vans.....? Thinking

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

LondonCalling's picture

posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
30th March 2010 - 13:35

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that safety aspect is a bit of a cover up i think, part of the reason for getting rid of bikes is that they want us postmen/women to 'team up' in vans and deliver all the packets (as well as the letters that would normally get covered by one walk), hence getting rid of a van driver duty which would normally take the larger parcels that the foot/bicycle delivery couldn't carry. Or in the case of walks that are within a mile radius of the office we will be given a 'HCT' (high capacity trolly, basically two big plastic boxes with wheels..and are not very secure) and told to take everything, large packets included.

on a personal level it takes me 10 mins to cycle from the office to my first delivery point (uphill i might add), pushing a 'HCT' i suspect would take nearly three times that.

its a crock of shit to be honest, and i suspect we will all be on strike in a few months. perfect.

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posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
30th March 2010 - 14:00

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LondonCallin - nope - it was in the West End not far from Hyde Park. I used to go that way to work.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2125 posts]
30th March 2010 - 14:17

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Royal Mail are forcing delivery staff to use their own transport, i.e. private cars, to carry out deliveries of mail.
Royal Mail staff are driving uninsured, and carrying uninsured mail in their own vehicles simply because it is the only way they are able to carry unrealistic loads over ever-increasing distances as delivery rounds are enlarged as part of Royal Mail's cost-cutting.

It has been happening for years; Royal Mail are taking advantage of the situation, by 'granting permission' (to use their own vehicles)to staff who would be unable to complete their delivery on foot, by bicycle or by being 'accelerated', i.e. driven in a Royal Mail van to the start of their round and being dropped off with half a dozen pouches of mail to look after.

Bikes are not being used, because you can't carry up to seven pouches of mail (16kg each!) on a delivery bike. Between 5 and 7 pouches of mail is the average load of an inner-city delivery on most days of the week.

Royal Mail won't pay for drop boxes to be erected along delivery routes, won't pay Post Offices and corner shops to act as 'safe drops' for mail bags (so that delivery staff can pick up fresh pouches as one is emptied) and got rid of all their bike mechanics and maintenance and safety managers years ago (go on, ask me how I know...).
The bikes that are still in delivery offices are in an unsafe condition and have not had any maintenance carried out for over 2 years. No new bikes or parts are available, because each delivery office has an operating budget which makes no provision for spares, repairs, or for the people to carry them out. In effect, Royal Mail have forced posties off bikes and into cars just so they can get the job done.

Meanwhile, collections staff risk losing their driving licenses and jobs every time they go out on collection due to the totally unrealistic schedules they are given to complete a round. The only way to complete a collection round on schedule is to break the law. Yet anyone caught speeding, or parking on a yellow line faces dismissal.

What was once a vital utility, an essential part of urban and rural life has been ground down over the last ten years by the likes of Leighton, Mandelson and Crozier. Leighton and Crozier hacked away in order to pad out their own pay packets, while Mandelson has been doing his level-best to flog off the profitable parts of the business to his pals at TNT and dismantle the universal service agreement whereby every address in the UK is entitled to one delivery 6 days a week.

Don't forget there's a shareholder's meeting coming up soon (i.e. 'General Election') and you're all entitled to a say.
Why not put Royal Mail up there on the list of questions - along with education, banks, police and the NHS - to be asked when the rosette wearers start knocking on your door ...?

neilwheel's picture

posted by neilwheel [130 posts]
30th March 2010 - 16:23

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neilwheel wrote:
R(go on, ask me how I know...)

Well, I'm guessing you aren't the management consultant who made all those recommendations... Wink

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7894 posts]
30th March 2010 - 16:30

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neilwheel - if posties are using their own cars for business use but are not insured for business use (and are merely covered for travelling to and from the daily place of work), then they're driving uninsured. Any accidents that occur during the course of the working day will not be covered. Insurance companies do investigate accidents because they'd rather not pay out if possible, with the result that any postie will carry the can in the event of an accident. Any manager who has signed paperwork allowing a postie to use his/her vehicle for business use and is aware the vehicle is not insured for this purpose could also face charges.

My motorbike is insured for business use. I don't take advantage of this often but when I do, I know that the small amount extra I pay ensures I'm covered. Perhaps posties need to be aware of the risk to their drivers' licences.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2125 posts]
31st March 2010 - 9:51

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The recent series on Radio 4 by an anonymous postal-worker blogger was a real eye opener but depressing on a much deeper level than even the posties losing their bikes. As neilwheel and londoncalling suggests, there are some shady vested interests at work here but it all goes back to successive governments treating the infrastructure that makes society work (post, railways.....) as "assets" to be made "more efficient" by selling them to shareholders. It's no surprise that it opens an opportunity for the management-gobbledegook-speaking likes of Mr Crozier to carve a nice fat wedge for themselves. Time was the senior management of the Post Office were themselves posties who had shown intelligence and ambition to get ahead in an organisation they were proud of (in the sense that it was their life) and knew what it meant to ride a bike.

NickInBath's picture

posted by NickInBath [41 posts]
31st March 2010 - 10:10

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neilwheel wrote:
[snipped]

What was once a vital utility, an essential part of urban and rural life has been ground down over the last ten years by the likes of Leighton, Mandelson and Crozier. Leighton and Crozier hacked away in order to pad out their own pay packets, while Mandelson has been doing his level-best to flog off the profitable parts of the business to his pals at TNT and dismantle the universal service agreement whereby every address in the UK is entitled to one delivery 6 days a week.

Don't forget there's a shareholder's meeting coming up soon (i.e. 'General Election') and you're all entitled to a say.
Why not put Royal Mail up there on the list of questions - along with education, banks, police and the NHS - to be asked when the rosette wearers start knocking on your door ...?

I am gobsmacked after reading Neil's post!! And apalled! Angry

How did we let this happen? How asleep have we been, as a country, a society??

What's the Union doing about this?

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

LondonCalling's picture

posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
31st March 2010 - 11:31

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Quote:
neilwheel - if posties are using their own cars for business use but are not insured for business use (and are merely covered for travelling to and from the daily place of work), then they're driving uninsured.

Yes, I said that carrying mail in a private vehicle is not insured, or is the driver, for that matter.

What the postie who needs to use his or her own transport as a delivery vehicle has to do is inform their manager of the the fact. This is in case the vehicle is stopped by police and found to be carrying mail, which is in itself an offence if there isn't a crown on the side of the vehicle (or on a temporary card inside the windscreen in the case of hire vans). It's a sort of 'get out of jail' measure, but I know of a few posties who've spent the day sitting in a cell until a manager can be found who will verify their innocence.
On each occasion it was over a well-intentioned phone call to police by a curtain twitcher who, understandably, was none the wiser of the situation.

But that's not all. This is a real good one. Sitting comfortably?

None of Royal Mail's delivery vans are insured! The cost of insuring each and every vehicle and driver would be too great, so the 'insurance' is underwritten by Royal Mail itself in the form of a budgeting contingency which is set aside in the event of claims against the company.
Guess who's been raiding the money set aside each year in order to show a profit on the balance sheet? The same people who have been defaulting on RM's commitment to its pension fund for the last 20-odd years, and thereby leaving a multi-million deficit that may never be repaid because the gap is now to large for the company to ever be in a financial position to plug!

Guess what Mandelson was proposing to do with the money that he would got from hacking up the company and flogging it off to TNT? That's right, pay back money stolen from the pension fund!

Once upon a time, the GPO kitty was a huge big honey pot the government could dip into whenever it needed to fund 'special projects', as Thatcher did when the police overtime bill landed on the doormat during the miners strike. Successive chancellors and governments have carried on robbing the honey pot until it was empty and a 'modern, competitive, value for money' management structure was put in place to cover up the cracks. (source : Panorama, BBC1 14.12.09)

Sad, eh? I know I'm veering away from 'posties on bikes' theme, but these are just some of the underlying reasons why the bikes (and posties) have gone. If Mandelson gets his way, or if the next lot are allowed to play monopoly with RM, there'll be a lot more than bikes disappearing.

neilwheel's picture

posted by neilwheel [130 posts]
31st March 2010 - 15:18

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I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1330 posts]
31st March 2010 - 16:53

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I wondered why it was that I'd started seeing our postie parking his car at the top of the road…

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
31st March 2010 - 20:31

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We have our female postie on this week, never seen her ride the bike, only push it.

Mind you, we are on a hill where the road narrows due to the old buildings and it gets a lot of HGV traffic as main route through this side of the Cotswolds... I get nervous going up that hill.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7894 posts]
31st March 2010 - 20:41

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neilwheel wrote:

{snipped]

Guess who's been raiding the money set aside each year in order to show a profit on the balance sheet? The same people who have been defaulting on RM's commitment to its pension fund for the last 20-odd years, and thereby leaving a multi-million deficit that may never be repaid because the gap is now to large for the company to ever be in a financial position to plug!

Guess what Mandelson was proposing to do with the money that he would got from hacking up the company and flogging it off to TNT? That's right, pay back money stolen from the pension fund!

Once upon a time, the GPO kitty was a huge big honey pot the government could dip into whenever it needed to fund 'special projects', as Thatcher did when the police overtime bill landed on the doormat during the miners strike. Successive chancellors and governments have carried on robbing the honey pot until it was empty and a 'modern, competitive, value for money' management structure was put in place to cover up the cracks. (source : Panorama, BBC1 14.12.09)

Sad, eh? I know I'm veering away from 'posties on bikes' theme, but these are just some of the underlying reasons why the bikes (and posties) have gone. If Mandelson gets his way, or if the next lot are allowed to play monopoly with RM, there'll be a lot more than bikes disappearing.

Don't worry about veering away from "posties on bikes", what you are saying here is eye opening!

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

LondonCalling's picture

posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
1st April 2010 - 11:21

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I wonder if Adam Crozier realises that the pedestrian death rate per km is 50% higher than the cyclist death rate in the UK? Or that obesity from lack of exercise is about to overtake smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in the UK. So good move Adam. A very creative way of dealing with the Royal Mail's £10Bn pension black hole Wink

posted by Tony [66 posts]
2nd April 2010 - 20:36

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what does Mr. A. Crozier care anyway, he's long gone now (along with his £2 million bonus). off to ruin ITV so i hear..

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
3rd April 2010 - 15:56

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Nice article by Matt Seaton, and a Facebook Group has just started.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1330 posts]
9th April 2010 - 12:16

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