Blog : Death of a Mailstar

Andrew Elphick


You may have noticed the decline of the cycling Postie and now, four years on from Royal Mail’s original announcement that cycle delivery would be replaced by other means, just a few hundred of the once 24,000 strong cycle fleet remain.

Unsurprisingly that modern nemesis ‘Health & Safety’ is to blame for the phasing out of the Pashley Mailstar. Now small electric trolleys deployed from mail vans will deliver your final demands. The Mailstar reputedly costs just under £500 and may be heavy and resolutely low-tech (three gears and no suspension) but it lasts indefinitely and emits zero emissions.

While chatting to my faithful Postie Tim about the changes to delivery (or ‘walks’ as the postal staff describe their personal rounds) he confessed he couldn’t see a positive upside to the whole shebang. “This old thing was secondhand when I got it 10 years ago! I will miss it, though – its quieter, quicker, cleaner than a van, but you can’t stop change.”

However, as another corner if England whittles away to nothing, there might just be an upside – one of Europe’s most efficient van production lines resides in Luton so, hopefully, the boys at Vauxhall can sell the new Vivaro to the Royal Mail…

Can Vauxhall sell shedloads of the new Vivaro to the Royal Mail?
Can Vauxhall sell shedloads of the new Vivaro to the Royal Mail?
Keith Adams


  1. There’s been a resurgence in bicycle courier work for internet deliveries. Courier work is a much better job, you actually get to cycle a reasonable distance.

    Not sure how they manage to phase out cycling a mail bike on health and safety grounds, you’re hardly going very fast with 20kilos of mail on the front. They also phased out the sliding drivers door though, which is the best thing ever if you’re jumping in and out of a van every three lamp posts.

  2. Our postie has been using a four wheel trolley (man powered)for sometime. Recently TNT have also started to deliver mail as Manchester is one of their areas–interestingly they are using bicycles as transport, again a specific design but not a Pashley.
    The ludicrous thing is that often the now two posties walk along together, both delivering to the same house!! OMG –progress!

  3. My postie out in the sticks delivers by a Corsa-style Vauxhall Combo van.

    Be interesting who gets what contracts for vehicles now that they’re privatised.

  4. A sign of the wilfully contradictory society we live in. On one hand we are expected to exchange our motors for bicycles for dubious environmental reasons, on the they are deemed to dangerous for postmen to use!
    Perhaps you may have heard of plans to deliver mail by radio controlled helicopter?

  5. I am afraid it is vehicles like the aforesaid Vauxhall Combo van and the Fiat Doblo that will deliver the mail. The plan is that 2 postal workers wil share one van.
    From an environmental point of view it is madness, and the escalating cost of fuel, plus the initial outlay of the vans will be passed onto the customer. Of course another factor is the decline of letter post. Who writes a letter in this day and age of phone texts, e-mails and social media? Only the elderly. The emphasis is now on packet post (shoess the missus has ordered and won’t use), and bikes cannot carry these items in large numbers.
    I would understand the health and safety arguement if it was not for the fact that many postmen do not wear the cycle helmets provided, even though it is a sackable offence.

  6. Our postie used to go out in his car others had a lift out and back to the office by van and another van used to drive down the street delivering parcels and yet another van for special they take everything in ONE van for tworounds so i think they do half of each others it HAS to be better From an environmental point of view.

  7. When I last rode a post bike back around 96-97 it felt like it was made out of cast iron, had rod brakes and no gears. Now I’ve gone from an 08 combo(changed due to it having a low seat and getting back ache) to an 06 connect, I’ve lost count the amount of hire vans I’ve had due to van failures. But it makes a nice change driving different vans.

  8. I thought the reason the bikes were being phased out was that the powered trolleys could carry more and were more efficient as they resulted in less runs.

    I am sure health and safety played a part but was not the main reason for this.

    For info Pashley are still going strong and make some amazing bikes these days

  9. it is Peugeots and Fiats which do the rounds these days ,Partners, Bippers and Doblos so no British made Vivaros, I think. Lots of French and Turkish made vehicles with extended roofs and long wheelbases. Out in the sticks we ha ve a Bipper which is quite liked by our long distance postie.
    It is goodbye to the Vauxhall Combo almost an end of an era as they even doubled up as Postbuses now all gone.
    The Peugeots seem to be in favour as Molly in her Eurovision song introduction making the Union Jack not only used London buses but also filled in the thin lines with ’14’ reg Peugeot Partners from Royal Mail to complete the pattern.

  10. Ahhhhhhhh – another Health and Safety myth!
    Like 99% of all references to H&S it is absolute ‘tosh’!
    No new laws have been passed to outlaw this bike – at best (or worst) someone has done a ‘risk assessment’ and decided this course of action. Ranks alongside the another myth of late – a shop keeper refused to blow up a balloon for a customer on ‘health and safety’ grounds. Check out the HSE’s website – they are constantly fighting this nonsense!
    For several years the HSE has been promoting ‘Common sense – common safety’ – the trouble is industry and the public love to use H&S as a whipping post. Talk about bashing your head against a brick wall!
    Never let the facts spoil a good story!

  11. Take Golden Eagle 32cc two stroke* kit + pipe with hill gear.
    Take Pashley carrier type bike
    Take rear frame extender kit.

    Combine and you have a highly agile, quick and economical/clean delivery machine. Can carry at least 600kg (its been done) and a sight nicer to ride/drive than that horrible monstrosity known as the Vauxhall Coarsa van.

    Oh wait – we cant actually be seen to help the environment..

    *Stratified charge engine

  12. @11, Jemma,

    The Vauxhall Corsa -based postie van (actually known as the Combo) has been out of production for a while now. Has been replaced with the Fiat Doblo based Combo- which is actually a pretty decent drive, even in its smallest 1300cc guise.

    I’ve delivered and collected many Doblos and Combos over the last few months, and apart from electrical gremlins, I’d rate them pretty highly as a working vehicle. Same goes for the smaller Fiorino and it’s French clones.

    As for the Royal Mail not using Vivaros, I’ve seen quite a few in use.

    Royal Mail seem to be slipping in terms of fleet maintainance though, their vehicles seem to be getting older, more battered, and with much more faded red paintwork than of yore.

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