Protests over plans to end cycling postmen
Updated on 08 September 2010
Cycling campaigners call on Royal Mail not to end postal deliveries by bike - but unions accuse them of "misrepresenting the facts" and say they support the plans.
Members of the national cyclists' group CTC cycled to Royal Mail headquarters in central London to deliver hundreds of letters of protest.
The CTC said under the proposed plans, the current fleet of 24,000 bikes could be slashed to just a few hundred.
"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," chief executive Kevin Mayne said.
The Royal Mail has denied it is phasing out all bikes but says the rise in online shopping has seen the weight of parcels for postal cyclists increase significantly.
"Royal Mail is making a number of changes in delivery methods as part of a £2bn modernisation of its entire operation, and it is certainly not a straightforward switch to vans for those postmen and women who currently use bicycles," a spokesman said.
In an unusual show of support, the Communication Workers Union has backed Royal Mail management, saying it "fully supports" the changes.
"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," a spokesman said.
The Union is urging the CTC to accept the changes needed for the company to evolve.
"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.
"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."