Postal staff in New Zealand are to get electric tricycles to help them deliver greater volumes of parcels.
The three-wheelers, which have been designed to drive on the pavement alongside pedestrians, are being issued to staff in the North Island city of New Plymouth and will eventually be rolled out right across the country, Radio New Zealand reports. There'll also be electric four-wheelers which will cost around NZ$20,000 ($14,500; £9,500) each, which some sections of the media have dubbed "Postman Pat cars" after the British children's TV character. NZ Post official Ashley Smout told the radio that the vehicles became necessary because the rise of online shopping meant that delivery staff are carrying larger parcel loads on their rounds while fewer people are sending letters. With a capacity of up to 300kg (660lbs), the vehicles allow postal and parcel rounds to be combined for greater efficiency, the New Zealand Herald says.
NZ Post says the vehicles are safe to use on paths also used by pedestrians, despite some officials airing safety concerns, the Christchurch Press newspaper reported earlier in May. Despite having a top speed of 45 kph (28mph), they'll be restricted to 10 kph on postal rounds. "Previous trials have shown the eco-vehicles are safe to use on the footpath. Our drivers receive safety training, and they will give way to all other footpath users," Mr Smout told NZ Herald. While most staff support trading in their bicycles for the electric vehicles, Radio NZ says that some say they'll miss the free workout that comes with the job, and are not looking forward to the resulting weight gain.
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