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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18 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.

    1. You do NOT want to have a seat belt in these things … There is no way I would want to be strapped to that death trap.

      Why did they go with trikes consideeing how inherently unstable a triple is?

      I am guessing whoever the fool was that ordered these has never ridden a Motorbike, Sidecar or even consulted any Dept inside Australia Post that deals with the Motorbike posties.
      They would have been much better with a quad type vehicle…

  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.

  5. It’s not really relevant that I have been riding motorcycles for over 50 years without an accident but what is relevant is in that time I have seen numerous small three wheel bikes come and go. One thing they all had in common, two wheels at the back and they all fell over when cornering far too easily. This postie machine has a ridiculously high centre of gravity and worse, it will alter depending on the weight of parcels making it highly unpredictable. I promise after a few nasty accidents it will be withdrawn. It is not a fixable problem and never has been. Reducing the level of skill required just makes it worse.

  6. I commend Australia Post on the introduction of this world acclaimed postal delivery vehicle. I believe it has positive advantages in providing its driver/rider a safer environment and at the same time making this vehicle and its operator more visual to other road users. Could I suggest that an orange strobe/flashing light mounted on the roof of the vehicle may increase it’s visual presence and add to the safety of the operator and others particularly in bad weather conditions where visibility is poor. In saying this is the vehicle fitted with a windshield wiper? In canvasing our local posties I determined that the mature aged posties have a more positive acceptance towards this new delivery vehicle where as the younger posties indicated that they didn’t look very “cool”and they missed the occasional “burn-out” that could be achieved with the two wheel motorbike.

  7. Just having a eDV’s doesn’t make Australia Post Environmentally friendly. They don’t specify the source of Energy they are using to recharge. I don’t see Solar panels at depots?

    I watched with Horror at a eDV trying to negotiate a right turn at a major intersection that was cambered against the slope. The ride manged to stop before it flipped over. He also had to Gun it to get through the corner maneuver because the traffic lights aren’t set up for slower moving vehicles. This was a major road and that would have been sad news for all of us. if he had tipped!

    Given that we had a ADR’s based blitz of Quadies and Trikes. They accounted for so many on farm accidents. and they should have examined Australia Posts Trike too!
    perhaps AP is exempt form ADR’s? So, we Wait for posties Die like farm workers have before they do something!
    Its too is a very poor choice for our roads and footpaths. the translation from Swiss Kyburz DXP 5 electric tricycle. the in there tight packed urban areas, And our urban spawl., so the operational use and terrain are some how overlooked.

    My Postie is over 6 ft so he just fits on his bike. But will no doubt have to be replaced by someone who not so tall! as the vehicle isn’t going to fit for him and many of the other posties! Perhaps that’s the objective. By any means remove posties!

  8. we have been told by our postie today that due to the introduction of new wider Australia Post electric vehicles for posties, many verge trees in Southport Qld will be removed by Council. While we support a move to electric vehicles (as long as the electricity is sustainably generated), to cut down trees is short-sighted and completely at odds with maintaining healthy open spaces and enhancing green spaces. A move to electric vehicles, if supposed to benefit the environment, is completely undermined by cutting down trees. The verge trees are integral to the character of Southport, Qld. Some native trees have been on Southport verges for 40+ years.

    What plans are there to maintain these trees and not let Australia Post dictate the health and character of our streets and communities?

  9. Started on one two days ago and hate it. Unstable, hard to see, slow so even though it carries more I don’t have the time so I actually carry less than the motorbike. It hurts my back as it rocks violently side to side over every small bump and unfortunately my round has mostly large bumps so I have to park it on the road and walk to every mailbox??? It also stops the breeze of the motorbike so in my full length clothes in FNQ I am cooking and by days end I feel sick and have a headache from being so hot. As for the parcel load.. they gave most of the parcels to the new van drivers so we don’t carry many any more anyway?? Their actually rewriting our areas because we can’t cover as much area now so we need more posties and as for being green??? do they realize that you have to stagger the connecting of the power because they draw so much they throw the building circuits. I now hate my job and will apply for anything that does not include using this horrible thing. No postie in the building likes it or wants to use it and management told me if I don’t use it I can go stand in the dole que with the other 20000 people.

  10. Aside from all the issues raised, I wonder how these vehicles will cope in traffic. As they are obviously wider than a bike they won’t be able to spend all their time on road shoulders and footpaths and will have to venture more into general traffic lanes – yet they have a top speed of only 45 kph.

    Where I live on the urban fringe, posties often have to ride between townships along a busy major highway with narrow or non-existent shoulders. This road has speed limits of up to 80 kph and the current mail bikes can (just) keep up with the traffic. Forcing posties to ride three-wheelers with such low maximum speeds on this road seems incredibly dangerous.

  11. Obviously Posties should be using these things:
    so much quicker, half as many Posties.
    Then again, how about more 40kmh limits, for which these things were designed. Have been hustling Fed Ministers for Industry etc since it was Kim Carr. Wake up Australia 60 kmh kills, that’s the problem.

  12. Pity they had to come all the way from Switzerland, especially with Swiss pricing. Why not use Dutch style cargo bikes, electric pedal assist, 2 wheels at front stability, heap cheap from China.

  13. I ride a 2001 CT 110 on a regular basis to deliver private business flyers. I am overwhelmed with where homeowners decide to put their letterboxes. Many are located in precarious heights and places , as well as hilly ,wet slippery surfaces that only a CT 110 or the new 125 Cubs could possibly reach.. Some suburbs are so dangerously hilly and trees and cars are always a problem…A real joke to think Aust post think they will be able to access so many letterboxes with these stupid three wheelers. . Aust Post posties know the two wheelers will always be the mode of transport to access the stupid places letterboxes are placed. No three-wheeler would have a hope in hell accessing the areas I’ve had to endure. Wake up AUST POST. You are putting your loyal , hard working staff at risk of severe injury , and putting them on Centrelink payments if they don’t comply .

  14. This reminds me of the ill fated Goggomobile and another English made vehicle both of which were three wheelers and if my memory serves me correctly they did not last long at all due to the very issues involving safety expressed here. The other thing if you are going to have a more vehicular mode of delivery service other than a motorbike why wasn’t such a thing built and manufactured in Australia. We certainly have the capability with all those car workers done over in the departure of Holden Ford etc. I suspect the purchase was made from Europe because Australia has been looking to Europe for sometime for greater trade development in the face of BREXIT and the China syndrome.

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