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Yellow Jersey Delivery – an innovative, emission-free, bicycle-based, postal delivery service in Coventry (UK)

Coventry, a city in central England, now has an innovative, bicycle-based, postal delivery service. Yellow Jersey Delivery offers a speedy, efficient and cost effective postal service which is also sustainable and emission free. The company made its first deliveries in 2009 and initially delivered around 400 letters a month. Three years later, the company delivers 40,000 to 45,000 letters a month.

Background & Objectives

Yellow Jersey Delivery was set up in 2007 to provide a green alternative to traditional motorised deliveries which exacerbate traffic congestion and air/noise pollution in Coventry. The company began by delivering various small packages – from brochures and stationery to flowers and even false teeth. However, this proved not financially viable as they ended up doing primarily one-off delivery trips which were time consuming and low value. To make the service viable, they needed to combine two or more deliveries but were rarely able to do so. They realised that they needed to rethink the business model. In 2006, the UK postal service had opened up to competition and in 2009 Yellow Jersey Delivery identified postal delivery as an opportunity to develop the business and successfully applied for a licence to deliver post. They still deliver some small packages but postal deliveries now make up the bulk of their work.


As the central, built up area of Coventry is relatively compact (around 12 kilometres in diameter), it is possible to define the limits of a bicycle based postal service in a way that customers can easily understand and accept. Significantly, most private companies offering “mail delivery services” only collect and sort the mail and they choose to sub-contract deliveries to Royal Mail.


Generally, private companies do not find it cost effective to deliver post as distances between houses are great and delivery loads too light. The Yellow Jersey Delivery service, delivering post by bicycle, is the perfect solution to cover the distance between houses fast and efficiently. In fact a “Yellow Jersey Delivery” postal round would actually be slower by van as the bicycle is more flexible and speeds up key elements of the delivery process. With van delivery, spotting house numbers, parking, getting in and out of the van and getting back into traffic are all more difficult and more time consuming.


The two directors and their six full time staff collect, sort and deliver the post and forward any “non-Coventry” post to Royal Mail to deliver.>

They also have three part time staff who they can call on if they have extra work or require cover for one of the full timers. 50% of staff time is spent cycling and 50% on sorting mail indoors. The cycling is physically demanding as each member of staff cycles 40 – 50 kilometres per day and delivers at least 250 letters (often many more). They need to deliver the post safely, accurately and speedily, whatever the weather. The indoor work requires concentration to make sure the letters are sorted accurately and can involve working long days when large volumes of letters need to be sorted for next day delivery.


Customers include: doctors’ surgeries, hospitals, dental practices, opticians, estate agents, schools, charities and businesses. Customers value the reliable and speedy service and they save money as it is significantly cheaper than the alternatives. New business is often generated from delivering post – i.e. someone experiences receiving a letter delivered by Yellow Jersey Delivery a few times, realises it is a reliable, established business offering a very cost effective alternative and opts to use the service.


Yellow Jersey Delivery demonstrates that it is possible to run a cycle-based postal service in a city not known as being particularly cycle friendly and with no significant restrictions on motorised traffic.


The company plans to build up the successful postal service over the next few years with the aim of delivering significantly more of Coventry’s post. As the postal service becomes more established, and the company becomes better known, they plan to reassess the viability of delivering small parcels.


It’s a win-win situation, Coventry benefits from a clean, green, innovative postal delivery service, which helps to reduce traffic congestion and air and noise pollution and customers benefit from a speedy, reliable, cost effective, emission-free postal service.


Further information: http://yjdelivery.co.uk/

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This Case Study is part of the European urban mobility and transport best practice collection from Eltis - www.eltis.org.