Post workers get off their bikes

Are cycles a desirable, green alternative to the use of cars at work? Not when you are lugging large quantities of mail, says the UK postal workers’ union.

Cycles are great for leisure pursuits, but are neither safe nor suitable when it comes to delivering large quantities of mail, the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) has said. The union is supporting a decision by Royal Mail to scale back the use of cycles on deliveries.

The company’s policy was criticised by the Cycle Touring Club (CTC). Under the slogan “keep posties cycling“, CTC supporters on 8 September cycled to Royal Mail’s London headquarters to deliver hundreds of letters of protest.

Kevin Mayne, chief executive of the national cyclists group, CTC, said: “Postal worker cyclists and members of the public have expressed concern at the illogical and rash way Royal Mail has made this decision.”

But CWU says there are serious safety concerns about the use of cycles for mail delivery, pointing out that over the past 15 years, 13 cycle delivery postmen and women have been killed at work and thousands more injured as the result of road traffic accidents. The union says other problems include “the limited load carrying capacity with cycles”. Overloading is common, it says, affecting cycle stability.

Responding to the CTC campaign, a CWU spokesperson said: “This isn’t leisure cycling, it’s cycling for work, and considerations are very different when people cycle as part of their job. Postal workers can’t pick and choose where they go on their cycle like leisure cyclists or people commuting and changes in road and traffic conditions have made cycles no longer suitable on many routes.”

CWU said it supported the introduction by Royal Mail of new vehicles with a “high environmental performance”, which would end the use of 30,000 less efficient private vehicles by postal workers. The union has warned for years that there are environmental, insurance and safety concerns from the use of private cars on mail rounds.

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