Why I think the Royal Mail's electric-trike trial is important
Royal Mail, the UK’s primary postal-carrier, is set to trial eight e-assisted trikes in selected urban areas from March onwards in a bid to reduce emissions.
While the trikes themselves are interesting, I think the significance is a large company illustrating that practical, cycle-powered alternatives to urban transport exist.
The custom-built trikes are equipped with a 250w motor, and battery power is supplemented by two solar panels located on the roof of the trike’s cargo area. The trikes also feature a large windscreen that covers the whole front of the bike, sheltering posties from the elements.
The six-month trial will start in Stratford, Cambridge and Sutton Coldfield
The large cargo area of the trikes is designed to primarily carry letters and small packages. Larger parcels will still be delivered by conventional means, which sadly means you’re not going to find your next bike delivered by bike.
Looking at the image above, the bikes also appear to be equipped with inbuilt lighting, wing mirrors and disc brakes. Further spec details, which I’m sure you’re all dying to know, are not yet available.
The six-month trial will start in Stratford, Cambridge and Sutton Coldfield. If the trial is deemed successful, Royal Mail may expand the program across the UK.
Why is this trial significant?
‘Urban mobility’ and ‘utility cycling’ are two of the hottest topics in the cycling world, as evidenced by the slew of e-assisted-everything we’ve become accustomed to seeing at every trade show we attend.
However, I would argue that the adoption of these cycle-powered-solutions in the UK has lagged far behind that of the continent. Indeed, the Royal Mail itself actually ditched its iconic Pashley Mailstar bikes back in 2014, to the disappointment of many cycling groups and environmental charities.
Pushing that misstep aside, I think Royal Mail’s trial is significant, because increasing awareness about the practical alternatives available, particularly by such an iconic and publically visible brand, can only be a good thing.
That it is e-assisted is also significant. Electric bikes have been proven time and again to lower the psychological barrier to getting people out of cars and as such, I wholeheartedly welcome this move. Pending the success of the trial, I hope other large companies are inspired to follow suit.
How about you? Do you welcome the move or are you suffering from a case of back-in-my-dayism when posties would haul loads on bikes unadulterated by assistance? Should we expect upcoming episodes of Postman Pat to include exciting trike action? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments.