Except the Royal Mail, who have just announced that posties in Cambridge, England, will no longer get about on their trusty red steeds and will instead be provided with vans. This is part of a "national agreement" - so expect to receive your last mail delivered by bike soon.
According to a report in the Cambridge News, the Post Office "needs to make its delivery routes as efficient as possible." Hang on a minute - aren't bikes supposed to be the most efficient form of transport around? Yes, according to a report by the John Hopkins University of Baltimore, Maryland, which found that a bike drivechain without selectable gears could be as efficient as 98.6%. Bicycling Science, a study produced by David Gordon Wilon and Jim Papadopulous, published in 2004 by MIT Press, achieved a similar result of 98.5%. Selectable gears - which your average postal operative worker is probably going to want if her daily round has any hills - may reduce this figure by 15%, down to 83.5%.
|Here's Fred, working hard in his office|
(© George Grinstead CC2.0)
Let's start with a human being. We'll call him Fred. Fred's a very average kind of bloke - he's about five feet and ten inches tall, or just a smidge under 1.80m if you prefer your measurements metric-flavoured, and he weighs 140lb - 64kg. In other words, he doesn't stand out in a crowd; being neither tall nor short, not fat nor skinny. He works in an office, drives a Volvo and likes Jeffrey Archer novels too (but hey, someone's got to).
|...and here's Rachel. She looks fed|
up because after he read this, her
dad borrowed her bike - and she
wanted to use it to go and meet her
friends after college.
(© Rovdyr CC3.0)
Fred was knackered when he got to work. He's not fat, but those cushy Volvo seats have turned him soft and he's not very used to exercise these days; so he was very glad to get his car back ready for work the next day. It's a pity he didn't borrow his daughter's bike instead, because his daughter - her name's Rachel, by the way - has worked out that if she keeps her bike in good condition then the ride to and from college is much easier. So, she keeps it clean, oils the chain, replaces the gear cassette whenever the teeth look worn and has fitted a good quality set of road tyres. As you're probably beginning to realise, Rachel is quite a bit more adept with mechanical objects than her dad is. Because of this, a man of Fred's build would only need 43kcal per mile to ride it at 10mph (16kph) - more than three times greater than the average walking speed for almost half as much energy. That, ladies and gentlemen, is some 732mpg (311km/L) and is technically termed an epic win.
|(Image © KaiMartin CC3.0)|
|You'd have been much better off with a bike, Pat!|
Oddly, it seems that the brains in the Royal Mail's policy planning department have already recognised that the change is going to make the service less efficient, not just in terms of the efficiency of the vehicles used but also in the success rate of the service they offer - they state that "many" households and businesses will still receive their mail by lunchtime.
Even if we assume the posties are all blatting about the place in Fiat Twin Airs, the bike beats the car hands down every time - especially when we remember that the cars/vans are going to be a lot less efficient when loaded up, too.