Going Green and Saving Green: How E-Bikes Can Benefit the Postal Service

Today we’re talking about something near and dear to our hearts: saving cold hard cash. Specifically, how the US Postal Service can save a ton of money by switching from 40 year old Grumman LLV death traps to e-bikes. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “The Postal Service is a government entity, they don’t care about saving money.” Well, you’d be surprised. You see, the Postal Service is actually a business and like any business, they want to cut costs wherever they can. And let me tell you, switching to e-bikes is a surefire way for them to do just that. Not only will they save money on fuel and maintenance, but they’ll also be doing their part in saving the environment. So, strap on your helmets and let’s dive in to how the Postal Service can save some green while going green.

One of several electric vehicles the USPS is testing for mail and package deliveries, I think this design might have a few too many wheels

Fuel and maintenance savings for ebikes compared to gas powered vehicles are insane

The Post Office is still using those gas-guzzling Grumman LLV’s to deliver the mail and those things are about as efficient as putting a drag chute on a submarine.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Those Grumman LLV’s have been delivering the mail for 4 decades, what’s the problem?” Well the problem is that they’re not just outdated, they’re costing the Postal Service a fortune in fuel and maintenance costs. But don’t just take my word for it, let’s do some math.

The Post Office has a fleet of thousands of Grumman LLV’s and each one gets around 12 miles per gallon. That means they’re spending about $0.33 per mile on gas. Now, let’s compare that to an e-bike. E-bikes have a cost per mile of less than 1 cent. That’s a saving of over $0.32 per mile. The USPS 208,000 vehicles drive more than 1.1 billion miles each year, using 114.3 million gallons of fuel. If you assume $3.50 a gallon for gas that means they burn through over $400,000,000 a year, if they could swap out even a small number of their mail delivery vehicles in urban areas with ebikes they could cut that number by up to 97% for the fuel savings alone.

But it’s not just the fuel costs that are killing the Postal Service’s budget. Those Grumman LLV’s are constantly breaking down and needing maintenance (when they are not bursting into flames). The maintenance costs for e-bikes are much, much less than ANY gas powered mail delivery vehicles on the market.

Another more traditional USPS ebike design, I like that it’s a mid drive and feel like torque sensing mid-drives are a good application for this ebike (the Bafang Ultra 1000W)

It’s time for more than just greenwashing

One of the biggest environmental benefits of e-bikes is that they produce zero emissions. Unlike traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, e-bikes don’t release any pollutants into the air. This means that switching to e-bikes would greatly reduce the Postal Service’s carbon footprint, making them a more sustainable organization.

E-bikes also require less energy to manufacture compared to traditional vehicles. According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, the manufacturing of e-bikes requires about 90% less energy than the manufacturing of traditional vehicles. This means that the Postal Service would be reducing their environmental impact not only through their use of e-bikes, but also through the manufacturing process.

Furthermore, by switching to e-bikes, the Postal Service would also be supporting the development of clean energy. E-bikes are powered by electricity, which can come from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydro power. This means that as more e-bikes are used, more clean energy is needed, which would help support the growth of renewable energy sources.

A much larger ‘e-Quad’ still classified as an electric bike (in some juristictions) even though it has 4 wheels (it does have pedals, but probably more for show)

How to get there from where we are at now

While the potential cost savings and environmental benefits of using e-bikes for mail delivery are significant, there are also some challenges that the US Postal Service would need to consider when implementing this change.

One of the biggest challenges would be the cost of purchasing and maintaining the e-bikes. While the Postal Service would save money in the long run, the initial investment in e-bikes could be significant. Additionally, the Postal Service would need to ensure that they have the infrastructure and resources in place to properly maintain and repair the e-bikes.

Somebody beat this thing with an ugly stick, Ebikes are way more practical and economical than electric vans, there is no guarantee that Oshkosh is even going to be able to make these things (and they have said as much) regardless of how much money the US government throws at them

Another challenge would be the logistics of using e-bikes for mail delivery. The Postal Service would need to ensure that the e-bikes have the necessary cargo capacity to handle mail and packages, and that they can navigate the terrain and roads in the areas where they operate. Additionally, the Postal Service would need to ensure that the e-bikes can handle the demands of daily mail delivery, including the ability to carry heavy loads and handle inclement weather.

Finally, the USPS would need to consider the regulatory environment for e-bikes. Different states and municipalities have different laws and regulations regarding the use of e-bikes, so the Postal Service would need to ensure that they are in compliance with all relevant regulations. In NYC this could prove particularly challenging since it doesn’t seem like NYC can actually figure out how they want to deal with ebikes.

The Danish post design makes a lot of sense, with large removable plastic buckets it’s easy to move the mail and packages

Everyone else is doing it, we should too

You know what’s crazy? Other countries have already figured out that e-bikes are the way to go for mail delivery, especially in urban areas. Take Denmark (my wifies alma-matter) for example, the postal service company PostNord has been cruisin’ around on e-bikes for years now and they ain’t looking back. They’ve seen the efficiency, cost effectiveness and the ability to navigate tight streets in the city. In fact, they’ve saved so much money on fuel and maintenance, they’re practically swimming in it.

PostNL has some very progressive ebike designs that I love, the car wheels mean it can handle lots of weight, having the packages in front means additional driver safety

But Denmark’s not alone in this e-bike revolution, the Netherlands is also getting in on the action. PostNL, the Dutch postal service has been using e-bikes for years and they’re reaping the benefits too. And they’re not the only ones, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium have all jumped on the e-bike bandwagon for mail delivery.

It’s clear that these countries have figured out that e-bikes are the way to go, and if the US Postal Service wants to save money and reduce their environmental impact, they should take a page out of their book.

The German design is 1300W (DD motor) seems like a fantastic design, look at that incredible kickstand

But let’s not forget, these countries have had success because they’ve put in the work to make it happen, they’ve planned and implemented this change effectively. And that’s the key, proper planning and implementation. So, let’s not just copy what they’re doing, let’s take what works for them and make it work for us.

When you look at mail delivery (or any package delivery really) there are a lot of situations where ebikes make way more sense than using a traditional gas or even electric powered van. You don’t have to find parking, they can park on the sidewalk, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic, you can easily get around quickly, especially in congested cities. Although ebikes won’t work on every route or in all weather, they could easily handle a large percentage of the mail and packages the USPS delivers every day. Will it ever happen? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Bottom line, e-bikes for mail delivery is a game changer, and other countries have already figured that out. It’s time for the US Postal Service to join the party.

Ride On.

Swiss Post have more of an electric mobility scooter design for their postal service, this is your grandpa’s EV

Karl Gesslein is a degenerate hooligan of the highest caliber living in upstate NY. His passion for e-bikes and all things sustainable causes him to be obsessed with climate change and finding solutions that will keep humanity from becoming extinct from our own hubris. His personal blogs include electricbike-blog.com, awaken-spirit.org & chestnutparadise.com.

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