Royal Mail’s cycle changes prompt mixed reactions

Plans from employer Royal Mail to reduce the number of workers that use bikes to deliver post has been welcomed by unions but criticised by a cycling campaign group.

Royal Mail confirmed that modernisation proposals, which could see its fleet of 24,000 bikes reduced significantly, were part of a £2 billion modernisation of its entire delivery operation.

However, a spokesman for the employer explained: “It is certainly not a straightforward switch to vans for those postmen and women who currently use bicycles.

"We are not getting rid of all bicycles and they will remain part of our delivery operation, with decisions taken locally."

But cycling campaign group CTC called the decision “illogical and rash” and claimed that the number of bikes used may be slashed to as few as a couple of hundred.

Kevin Mayne, CTC chief executive, said: "Postal workers, cyclists and members of the public have all expressed their concern to us over the illogical and rash way Royal Mail has made this decision."

CTC also organised a protest cycle to the Royal Mail office in London to deliver 700 letters from people against the changes.

But the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents many workers at the firm, said the reduction in bike numbers was one small part of a major modernisation programme.

It also said that CTC was “misrepresenting” the issue and that Royal Mail would be keeping about 1,000 bikes rather than a few hundred.

A CWU spokesman said: "This isn't leisure cycling - it's cycling for work, and considerations are very different when people cycle as part of their job. For every postman and woman that loves their bicycle, there's one that hates them.”

Postal workers can't pick and choose where they go on their cycle like leisure cyclists or people commuting, he added. Meanwhile, changes in road and traffic conditions have also made bikes unsuitable on many postal routes.

"Most important is the modernisation of the industry. Today's protest by CTC used ancient cycles and old postal uniforms. We're fighting for a modern Royal Mail. You have to let go of some of the sentimentality surrounding traditional views of an industry spanning hundreds of years if you want it to have a successful future."

From People