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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 19 | November 29, 2001

He's got mail (on the back of his bike)

Through rain or snow, mail carrier puts wheels in motion

by Michelle Cook staff writer

At six feet nine inches tall, James Boucher was bound to attract the nickname Jolly Green Giant at some point in his life. But the UBC mail carrier's colourful moniker isn't just a reference to his lofty stature. It's a testament to his commitment to making the campus a greener place, including delivering all his mail by bike.

Boucher, who works in the Faculty of Education's mailroom, has been crisscrossing UBC's 400-hectare campus to deliver mail since 1990. For most of that time, he used a van for his rounds. Then, last May, he had an epiphany.

"I was delivering a light load of envelopes in the van one day last spring," Boucher recalls. "And I thought, why not get out the bungee cords and just strap the mail to the back of my bike."

Trading his gas-guzzling vehicle for two wheels didn't go as smoothly as Boucher would have liked. He got a bit cocky in his attempts to balance larger and larger loads on his back rack. After taking a few spills that sent envelopes and packages flying, he approached The Bike Kitchen with a design idea for his bike.

The mechanics at UBC's on-campus bike shop used plywood, bolts, and rubber matting to transform Boucher's old pannier rack into a sturdy platform with a perfect fit for his Canada Post mail bin. But Boucher's happy days of cycling across campus with the mail were cut short when his bike frame cracked under the weight of his postal bin.

Undaunted, Boucher explained his predicament to Bike Cartage, a non-profit educational society that supplies environmentally friendly bike carts in partnership with UBC's TREK Program Centre.

They loaned him a bright purple plastic and aluminum cart to hook onto the back of his bike. The adjustments put Boucher back in business pedaling almost 16 kilograms of mail around campus daily.

"I won't say I'm using the bike 100 per cent," Boucher admits. "I sometimes have large deliveries to make. But I'm not a fan of car exhaust. It's a lot more fun to bike."

Boucher's efforts to go green with his mail delivery dovetail nicely with his work as a sustainability co-ordinator. This includes encouraging those working in the Faculty of Education to adopt Go Green initiatives including energy and paper reduction, recycling, and alternative transportation methods.

The intrepid mail carrier has got some other sustainability ideas for his colleagues, but first he's got one more hurdle to overcome with his mail bike.

This will be Boucher's first winter making deliveries on two wheels, which means he'll be battling every mail carrier's worst nemesis -- foul weather. He has invested in some heavy-duty rain gear that he describes as "almost impregnable in any kind of weather."

"If I'm still out on the road in a month," Boucher says, "I'll be proud."


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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