Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 16:55 UK

Devon council fight to save bicycle postal deliveries

Postman on bike
The Royal Mail say that bikes have "limited usefulness" on deliveries

Controversial proposals to phase out Royal Mail deliveries by bicycle are being opposed by a Devon council.

The postal service has announced a nationwide scheme to move from bikes to vans in a bid to improve efficiency.

However, Devon County Council has written to the Royal Mail amid concerns the change may lead to the closure of smaller sorting offices.

Council leaders are now calling for a meeting with Royal Mail officials to discuss the proposals.

Stuart Hughes, the council's cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "I think a meeting would be useful to clear up this issue of the use of delivery bicycles. It would be a crying shame to think that we might not see our local posties on their bikes anymore.

A lot of people have a rose-tinted view of bicycles, but this is the 21st Century
Communication Workers Union

"I appreciate that the Royal Mail is investing in transforming its collection and delivery, but as carbon reduction is part of that investment, the use of bicycles would seem to fit in perfectly with its future operations to reduce emissions."

In their response, the Royal Mail told the council: "Whilst we recognise that bicycles are a sustainable and safe mode of travel for many people, we see their usefulness out on delivery as increasingly limited.

"The mix of mail in a delivery bag is changing and we are delivering fewer and fewer letters as people move to e-mail and text. However, small parcels and bulky letters are growing as people move to on-line retailing. As our people carry heavier mail bags we have to consider the safety and practicality of using cycles.

"The new vans which we are now introducing in place of bicycles are smaller and more fuel efficient than the older larger vans."

A spokesman for the Communication Workers Union said: "A lot of people have a rose-tinted view of bicycles, but this is the 21st Century.

"People are not just sending postcards and bills, they're ordering heavy items online or buying bulky packages from E-bay.

"This issue has even led to many postal workers using their own vehicles to deliver post, which we do not support at all."

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