Postie bikes to become a thing of the past

The traditional postie bike is being replaced by new electric vehicles which Australia Post says will keep postmen safer, improve communication and equip them for ecommerce.

Mitch Buxton

The three-wheeled electric delivery vehicles (eDVs) can carry over 100 small parcels and up to 1,200 letters.

Mitch Buxton, General Manager of Business Efficiency and Optimisation at Australia Post, says the eDVs are far superior to the traditional bike, with more capacity and additional safety features and communication tools.

“They’re a stable platform and they have added features in relation to better capacity, with nearly 450L of carrying capacity compared to a motorcycle and a pushbike, which only has 130,” he told Government News.

“From a safety point of view, we actually have a roof on these vehicles to give it 100 per cent UV protection for our riders, it’s also great for magpies, I’ve got to say.”

Mr Buxton says the technology enables posties to contact Australia Post while they are on the road.

“All the vehicles also come with telematics and cameras that help protect our staff while they’re out there,” he said.

“We also have the ability for our drivers to alert us if they either are feeling ill, through those telematics, or they’re encountering aggressive behaviour or so forth while they’re doing their job.

“The reality for us is that we’re trying to stay ahead of what we know, how the business is changing and what our customers are after.”

Along with added storage capacity, the vehicles also have automatic locking that doesn’t require a key, and the vehicles have a longer lifespan.

“We used to get about three and a half years out of a motorcycle, these vehicles are expected to run for seven years,” Mr Buxton said.

Staying ahead of the game

The idea for the eDVs was taken from a Swiss Post model, Mr Buxton said. Australia Post adapted that model and added on features tailored for the Aussie postie.

“The reality for us is that we’re trying to stay ahead of what we know, how the business is changing and what our customers are after,” he said.

“And the forefront of this is that we want the right vehicles for our staff to keep them as safe as possible but also to make them absolutely sustainable into the future with their jobs.

“Motorcycles have been fantastic for decades but they were very much aligned to letter delivery and probably not so suited for parcel-type products.”

“We’re looking at being able to service ecommerce parcels, those parcels we know are really being sought after by our customers, they tend to be higher value goods and we need to protect their product as a custodian of that product all the way until we actually deliver it to the person,” Mr Buxton said.

A changing market

Although the response from posties has mostly been positive, not all of them are on board. Some are unhappy with the decrease in speed of the new vehicles. Motorcycles can currently go 80km/h but the new vehicles can only travel 45km/h, Mr Buxton says.

However, posties recognise that the times are changing, and the products they now need to deliver are bigger and bulkier.

“For our guys, they’ve seen the decline in mail. Our posties understand that things are changing, the market’s changing, and therefore, they’re looking for things that are going to make their jobs sustainable and provide the same service they always have for the customer,” Mr Buxton said.

“The reality is they can go for longer, they can carry more, they don’t need to refuel as often, and there are trade-offs at the end of the day, especially when you look at it from a safety point of view, (but) this is where we see the benefits,” Mr Buxton said.

While the postie bike has been a helpful vehicle for posties, Mr Buxton says that they will eventually be phased out.

“Motorcycles have been fantastic for decades but they were very much aligned to letter delivery and probably not so suited for parcel-type products,” he said.

“There is no doubt that the numbers of motorcycles over the next few years are going to drop dramatically, there’s no doubt about that, and you’ll see more of these types of vehicles and potentially new ones as well.”


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6 thoughts on “Postie bikes to become a thing of the past

  1. 45km/h top speed….really. And what effect is that going to have when they merge with normal traffic flow, I wonder?

    1. Exactly Gordon, I’m a motorcycle postie and these things are death traps, I’ve been trained to mentor other EDV riders and I can tell you these things will tip over all the time, the injuries will be far worse than anything we’ve seen on motorcycles, it’s all about loading the posties up with parcels and cutting back overtime with smaller rounds, I still deliver the same amount of letters today that I did when I joined post 8 years ago.

      1. Tod is right. How can seat belts protect a poster smashing his head in a cage concrete first from a reversing vehicle?
        these are not a good idea for safety, and can creat neck fractures, not low back injuries like bikes.
        Personally with my slipped disk I would not want to sit in Death trap

  2. The comments about ‘safety’ and the modifications made to suit Australian conditions, including the curious allusion to, “…it’s also great for magpies…”, thanks to the fixed roof, clearly demonstrates the experts who chose the devices failed to foresee the obvious balance of probability risks associated with the heads operators, in a head-on crash, impacting with the fixed roof ! The excuse that wearing a helmet somehow protects the utterly unprotected cervical spine in that scenario, is lost on Australia Post and, apparently the authorities which have authorised their introduction.
    Worse, there is no technical or other safety data published or apparently inexistence for basic issues such as crash test performance – reliance on the devices being considered as a motorcycle, apparently negates that necessity, despite the presence of the fixed roof, which motorcycles obviously do not have.
    But that conundrum is now complicated by the A.C.T. government’s recent decision to provide Australia Post with a dispensation to allow operators to only require a motor vehicle license, rather than the additional motorcycle licence currently required to ride a postie motorcycle.
    So, if, in the A.C.T. an operator is only required to have a motor vehicle licence to operate the device, why is the device not required to comply with Australian Design Standards for a ‘motor vehicle’ which, amongst other things, requires new vehicles – which these devices clearly are – to have seat belts and air bags fitted.
    Sadly, it seems that the foreseeability of cervical spine injuries to operators has been, and is, being ignored. If Australia Post was serious about ‘safety’ being its number one priority for its staff, the introduction of the EDv’s, without crash test or other relevant engineering data associated with the fixed roof’s clear and present potential for foreseeable cervical spine injuries to unrestrained operators (the helmet excuse notwithstanding), is the new standard for lies, damn lies, and statistics.
    A ‘green’ agenda is one thing, but explaining its alleged benefits to an operator who has sustained cervical spine injuries which rendering them with a para or quadriplegic condition, will be the lawyers’ picnic – an issue with which Comcare will have to wrestle.

  3. Could not agree with you more John particularly in relation to Australian Design Regulations for motor vehicles. In addition do they meet all state regulations for registration of a motor vehicle and roadworthiness standards. Looking at this I do not think so

  4. I’m struggling to find some history on my AP bicycle and would appreciate any information you can provide. This bike is a red coloured cargo bike, originally fitted with an electric motor on the front wheel and a 3sp hub on the rear wheel. I believe they were used by AP in the 1990’s. Anything you can tell me I could share with some other enthusiasts. Many thanks Doug M.

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