No, they were not quite like cavalier bike couriers zipping around cars, with a big mail delivery bag flung on their backs. Instead, in several cities in Germany, France and Denmark, we saw every day postal workers delivering mail door to door on bikes.
Their bikes were a standard issue colour and model provided by their postal agency. The bikes did not have any fancy decals or tatoos to individualize them. The bike colours tended to be in the yellow-orange range. Unlike bike couriers, whose pay is often driven by maximum
number of delivery points and packages in the least amount of time, these postal workers ambled along on bike.
Unlike bike couriers in North America, we saw several postal workers on bike who were at least in their third or fourth decade on the job. They did not look stressed nor rushed. I knew someone whose son was a regular, somewhat stressed bike courier in Vancouver for over 7 years –a long time for a bike courier.
These European regular postal workers, did not carry any mail bags across their body. All their mail weight was sensibly packed in panniers, front baskets and trailers.
And what a range of bike models. A favourite was the postal bike in Hamburg, Germany. A real Dom Perignon of the working bicycle world –expensive, durable and easy to flaunt. Oh yes, there’s even an electric motor on the front wheel to make the trips more pleasant.