I thought the UK was starting to move towards a more sustainable urban future, but it seems the Royal Mail is out to prove me wrong. In what way, in these days of escalating fuel prices, congested road networks, and rising obesity - can it be a good idea to replace bicycles with vans and trolleys? And who makes these vans which will replace 24,000 British-built bicycles? Are they a UK company? Have they lobbied the Royal Mail in any way? Clearly there are many questions that remain unanswered.
Some might argue that the very nature of the postal service is changing; fewer letters and more e-commerce packets are sent in the post these days. But with practical panniers, or even cargo bikes, the Danes seem to manage just fine...
Photos from Copenhagenize.com
The move to new vans and trolleys (first brought up as a rouse for 'modernisation', now being pushed trough under the guise of 'health and safety') will cost the Royal Mail some £120 million. That in the heat of a recession the Mail has this kind of cash lying around to replace a perfectly functional, green, healthy system is beyond my comprehension... That it is totally at odds with the Government's Active Travel Strategy - which aims to get the general public taking up cycling - is self-evident. Again, considering the recession, it seems sad in the extreme that Pashley of Stratford-on-Avon will loose a huge order to continue producing bikes here in the UK. According to an article written by a cycling postie in The Guardian "The current stock of bikes are very sturdy, very low-maintenance. I've never known any of them to get a puncture. The entire fleet of bikes in our office are looked after by one man. All the parts are replaceable. If one part goes all he does is to whip it off and replace it with another: a five-minute job. Will vans and trolleys be so easy? I doubt it. The work will almost certainly need to be franchised out, adding yet more costs to the already beleaguered network."
The national cycling organisation, the CTC, is leading the call to keep posties on their Pashleys. You can read all about their campaign here, and if you care about keeping more commercial cyclists on our roads (and more vans off them!) fill in their campaign form here, which hopefully is just the first step in a concerted campaign. Each form will automatically be turned into a letter, to be delivered by cargo bike to 10 Downing Street. Let's keep Britain - and its posties - cycling!