Although the use of bicycles for mail delivery is not a new thing, the growing popularity of e-bikes coupled with the fact that many postal services are now carried out by petrol-powered vehicles, arguably makes their reintroduction innovative once more.
It was with this in mind back in 2015 that the Croation Post Office – Hrvatska pošta – trialled the replacement of 180 petrol-powered mopeds with e-bikes. The results were clear: savings of around €920, or 85% per vehicle per year, plus a total annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 100 tonnes compared to using mopeds. Positive feedback was also received from the delivery workers using the e-bikes. In fact, the pilot was so successful that Hrvatska pošta decided to buy 180 new e-bikes before the 6-month trial period was even over, and they were unveiled by Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović.
The scheme was one of a series of 30 pilots run by the EU-funded Pro-E-Bike project, which aimed to promote:
“electric bicycles and electric scooters (E -bikes), for delivery of goods and passenger transport among private and public bodies such as delivery companies, public administration and citizens in European urban areas as an alternative to “conventionally fossil fuelled” vehicles”.
In this case, the EU project co-funded the purchase of the e-bikes.
Hrvatska pošta’s switch to e-bikes came at roughly the same time as the UK’s Royal Mail decided to go in the opposite direction, citing concerns over safety. Royal Mail have now mothballed a bicycle fleet which was at one point the largest in the world and which dated back to the late 1800s. Encouragingly though, the trend amongst postal services elsewhere seems to be going the other way, with even TNT, their direct rivals for UK postal services, developing a bicycle fleet.
Meanwhile over the English Channel, France’s La Poste is building on it’s own history, having used bikes for deliveries since 1893. Their service already uses 20,000 e-bikes and there are plans to increase this number to 28,000; allowing numbers of petrol-powered mopeds to be reduced from 10,000 to 6,500. Over in The Netherlands, mail service PostNL has replaced 100 routinely taken car journeys in central Amsterdam with 60 e-bikes and a network of inner-city bike transfer points.
Organisation: Hrvatska pošta
Basis: Initially a pilot; now permanent
Hrvatska pošta: “180 postmen deliver on electric bicycles (instead of mopeds)”
European Cyclists’ Federation: “A New Move for Business in EU Cities”
Eltis: “Procuring e-bikes for cleaner postal deliveries in Croatia”
Ministarstvo Pomorstva, Prometa I Infrastrukture: “S prvih 180 električnih bicikala poštari Hrvatske pošte kreću u dostavu pošiljaka” (Croatian)
Večernji list doo: “Poštari na struju: Od rujna pošiljke će dostavljati biciklom na električni pogon” (Croatian)
Postel 2017: “Impact of Transport Means in Postal Traffic on Environment” (Katarina Mostarac, Zvonko Kavran, Estera Rakić, Žarko Barlović) (opens pdf)
The Guardian: “Royal Mail to phase out post bikes completely in 2014”
Museum of Tradesman’s Delivery Bikes: “1983 Pashley Post Office Bicycle / History of Post Office Bicycles”
La Tribune: “Vélo, nouveau moteur éco (3/4): La Poste et le vélo… toute une histoire!” (French)