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September 22, 2010

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Union backs Royal Mail cycle reduction plan

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has backed Royal Mail’s decision to reduce the number of postmen that are allowed to use bicycles to deliver post.

It follows criticism of Royal Mail from the Cycle Touring Club (CTC), which has launched a protest campaign called ‘keep Posties cycling’ to protest against the decision. The CWU believes that the CTC has overlooked the valid safety reasons, which have led to Royal Mail making the move.

CWU national health and safety officer, Dave Joyce, said: “While we respect the CTC as an issue-based membership organisation, they are misrepresenting the facts on this matter.

“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. For every postman and woman that loves their cycle, there’s one that hates them.”

Royal Mail has revealed that the decision to reduce the number of cycles was made in response to the changing profile of mail, which is increasingly made up of bulky parcels from Internet shopping, and to improve health and safety. 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.

Joyce added: “Royal Mail is not eliminating cycles altogether and a fleet of around 1,000 will remain. Those cycles will be more carefully matched to the delivery rounds they are used on and CWU is helping to identify appropriate routes.

“We fully support the changes for improved efficiency, safety and environmental performance. What most people don’t know is that thousands of postal workers every week use their own private cars on delivery. This not only raises problems of insurance and safety but is an invisible major contributor of emissions. The new vehicles being brought in have high environmental performance, will eliminate the use of private vehicles, and will be fully audited in Royal Mail’s carbon footprint.”

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13 years ago

Having seen the standard of cycle riding exhibited by local postal workers, I suspect that many accidents are rider-related. Whilst I appreciate that some packets may be too large for cycle delivery, doing away with the bikes altogether is a backward step.