Home > The Post > Royal Mail Modernisation: Golf Trolleys Versus Bikes

Royal Mail Modernisation: Golf Trolleys Versus Bikes

Modernisation

Modern workers with modern tools

The Royal Mail is undertaking a major modernisation programme at the moment. Gone are the old, worn-out, Victorian ways of doing things, to be replaced by new, sleek, 21st Century methods.

Gone are the traditional, old fashioned bikes, for example, in use for more than a hundred years, to be replaced by golf-trolleys.

Here are some of the many ways in which golf-trolleys have proved themselves more modern than bikes:

1.

You have to walk with a golf-trolley. You cannot scoot, glide, pedal or push. You cannot relax on a downhill run and allow the bike to take the weight. Obviously this means you are much slower with a golf-trolley than with a bike, making the round that much longer. But it has the advantage that you are expected to walk at a steady four miles an hour, which means that the computer back in the office can calculate exactly where on your round you are supposed to be. See how modern this is? It means that the man on the ground is connected to a computer. And computers are very modern.

2.

A golf-trolley has only two positions. You can push it, or you can pull it. This is unlike the bike, which has numerous positions. You can push a bike and park it. You can push from the right hand side or you can push from the left. You can leave a bike and walk. You can scoot a bike. You can use your left leg to scoot, or your right. You can get on your bike and pedal. You can pedal standing up or you can pedal sitting down. Or you can simply sit on a bike and let it freewheel down a slope. This is obviously wrong. The Royal Mail doesn’t pay its workers to sit on bikes. It pays its workers to work. This is why the golf-trolley is much superior to the bike. The work is much harder with a golf-trolley than it is with a bike. The Royal Mail workers go home much more tired than they used to do. They ache in every bone. See how modern this is? It means the Royal Mail is getting its money’s worth.

3.

In the old days postal workers used to park up their bikes and do a loop. They would take a bundle of letters, walk up one side of the road, and then down the other. Then they would pick up their bike and cycle on to the next loop. The new delivery method is very similar. It is called “Park & Loop”. Except that instead of a bike, the postie now uses a van. This too is much more modern than a bike. Bikes don’t use diesel, whereas vans do. Bikes don’t give off Carbon Dioxide gases, whereas vans do. Bikes are cheap, whereas vans are expensive. Bikes don’t get caught in traffic, whereas vans do. Bikes don’t break down all that often, and when they do they are easy and cheap to fix, whereas when a van breaks down it has to be hauled off to a workshop. And the vans aren’t fixed in-house any more, they are fixed by a sub-contractor attached to the dealer. Meanwhile the Royal Mail has tied itself to the dictators and despots in the oil producing countries, and to a technology with hardly any future. You can’t get more modern than that.

4.

A modern means of transport

Bikes are easy to park, whereas vans are not. Bikes can be parked on the pavement, whereas vans have to be parked on the road. Vans cannot be parked where there are double yellow lines, whereas a bike can. Bikes can be leaned against a tree or on the nearest wall, whereas a van has to spend time looking for a parking place. This is the modern way of going about things. If it isn’t difficult, it isn’t worth doing. It keeps the Royal Mail workers on their toes, having to think. It blocks the rest of the traffic up while the postie parks the van, causing more hold ups and more frustration, the way the modern world was meant to be.

5.

Bikes can be used in a number of different ways: as a road vehicle, or on the pavement, as a trolley, as a scooter, as a work-station, as a place to sort and store your mail. There are several different parts to a bike. There’s the tray on the front for carrying bags, and the panniers on the back for carrying parcels. There’s the rack over the rear wheel which can be used to sort the mail. You can use the panniers for itemising the mail and helping you to remember. One pannier can be used for parcels still to be delivered, and the other for parcels which have to be returned to the office. This too is an advantage that vans and golf-trolleys have over bikes. Bikes are obviously too versatile for the modern world. Versatility is an old-fashioned virtue, like politeness or decency or cheerfulness or being concerned about our customer’s welfare. Such things can be dispensed with in the new, thrusting 21st Century world.

6.

The new delivery method involves parking up the van, getting out the golf-trolley, loading it up with bags, and then doing a loop. There are two posties in the van, doing two loops simultaneously. This has the advantage that the two posties might be travelling at different speeds. One of them might be a slow and steady type who does everything by the book. The other might be a flyer. He might jog along, skipping over walls and obstacles along the way. One postie might be old, the other might be young. One might be worn-out the other might be fit. One might be cautious the other might be carefree. This too is a good thing. Posties love their job because they love working on their own. They like going at their own speed and not being obliged to other people. Who says posties should love their job? They should learn to hate it like everyone else.

7.

The rule with the golf-trolley is that you have to take it everywhere you go. You cannot park it up and leave it, as you can a bike. A bike can be locked, whereas a golf-trolley cannot. What this means is that both hands are full. One hand is carrying the bundle, the other hand is pushing the trolley. You cannot rifle through the bundle as you are walking. You have to stop at the end of every path, sort through your bundle, and then deliver. This slows you up even more. This is a good thing. It means the postal worker is only doing one thing at a time. He is either walking or he is sorting through the mail. Postal workers are notoriously inept. They cannot walk, fart and sort at the same time. There are walking times and sorting times and farting times and each has its proper place. Walking while farting is not allowed either. In order to fart one must stop still until the gaseous emission has been satisfactorily expelled before continuing on one’s way.

8.

Golf-trolleys were originally designed for carrying golf-clubs. So naturally it would have occurred to Royal Mail executives to use them for carrying the mail. The idea must have arrived on a golf-course. One day an executive was playing golf. It was a working day so of course he was playing golf. And he realised just how much weight his golf-trolley could take. A whole heavy golf-bag of full of clubs. He had his caddy with him. It was like a neon light flickering on in his head, a sudden burst of illumination. Of course! Postal workers are just like caddies really. Why not get them to use golf-trolleys instead of bikes? And he swung his six iron and landed straight on the green.

9.

But the main advantage of the new delivery method over the old is that it doesn’t in any way take the worker’s needs into account. It was imposed from above, without consultation with the staff. It was devised in the drawing room, in the office and the boardroom. It was negotiated with the union and then presented as a fait accompli. It was either take it or leave it and take early retirement. No other choice was on offer. It doesn’t matter whether it is more efficient or less. What matters is that it has created a new disincentive for the workforce to care about their job. It has alienated the worker even more. It has reinforced the worker’s view of himself as a replaceable cog in a large and complex machine. It has reminded him of just how meaningless he is. This, of course, is entirely right and proper, because this is all he is, and the sooner he gets used to it, the better.

Welcome to the modern world.

  1. michelle mcstein
    November 23, 2012 at 8:15 am | #1

    ah the golf trolley , i noted above you had said the golf trolley can only be pushed or pulled , i may be wrong but i remember someone saying they should only be pulled as pushing blocks your view of the path in front of you ,It was a manager that said it but strangely you have to push the heavier and bigger HCT’s for up to a mile up and down hills etc before even delivering a letter , you couldnt write something about HCT’s i would be interested to hear your view on them

  2. paul
    January 22, 2013 at 10:05 pm | #2

    it is all good with new ways like trolleys , so much to be said about giving the staff a full uniform which is supposed to represent the queens service …..

  3. February 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm | #3

    Hey, older postmen and post women could have electric golf trolleys. This will help when the retirement age is raise to 68.

  4. N.A.Griffiths
    April 20, 2013 at 11:00 am | #4

    Looks like the was in on this a long time ago, I can name six different sites where moss covered trolleys have been a fixture for more than a year chained to posts, (Can supply pics if required).
    Marvellous investment foresight, presumably not by those expected to use them.Is the Royal Mail that Flush?

    • April 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm | #5

      I don’t think what you’re seeing chained to lamp posts would be golf trolleys, but High Capacity Trolleys (HCTs), which are often used as drop off points on a round. The golf trolleys are small, open affairs which are taken in the backs of vans, the HCTs are big things with locks and brakes, more like an over sized pram than a golf trolley.

  5. The Master
    February 10, 2014 at 7:42 am | #6

    Started off well but turned into a love affair with the bike. It is true though that in some cases a bike can be more efficient and some were left in. Unfortunately this was later changed.

    • February 10, 2014 at 8:10 am | #7

      OK, I must admit, now that I’m no longer using a bike, there’s less strain on my knees, and that, for the time I was working out of the back of my van doing small loops – using the van like I used to use the bike – I was less tired too. But the trolleys are ridiculously slow, and my point about bikes in the end is that they are the most efficient machines on the planet by a long shot (check it out), and that they are sustainable. It felt good, despite the fact that we are a polluting industry (paper waste) that we were at least sustainable in our use of technology. Not any more.

  6. Barry Morley
    February 21, 2014 at 12:43 pm | #8

    We’ve just got the trolleys in our Lincolnshire village. I’m not a postie but consider the whole idea ridiculous, for the reasons shown in this article. Our postie, who is brilliant, has had to take early retirement because of this stupid move. Let’s hope someone sees sense and reverses this decision as soon as possible.

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