I’m a Postman, Not an Athlete!
The article, Union claims Royal Mail postmen are being told to walk faster, clears up the confusion surrounding the claim that the Royal Mail in England will be “requiring delivery staff to walk at four miles an hour”. It’s amusing that the claim is taken at all seriously. People are notoriously bad at judging numbers. They hear the claim and think nothing of it, thinking that the number—which a “new software system, Pegasus” calculated is anything but a complete fairy tale. It may also show that people either don’t walk very much or don’t know how quickly they’re walking when they do. Four miles per hour—6.44 kilometers per hour for the civilized world—is very quick. If you’re of average height, you will neither hit nor maintain this pace without constant concentration and effort. To say nothing of maintaining the pace for two hours or more—you certainly won’t have mental energy left over for delivering the mail accurately.
To discuss that pace as anything but laughable when talking about postmen (and women) is incompetent. The BBC even sent out a reporter to walk the rounds with a postman to see what a real pace was like. Lo and behold, he discovered that even 3.1 miles per hour felt “rather brisk”; it turns out that they averaged 2.1 miles per hour for the nearly four hours they needed to complete the route. At that pace, they took twenty minutes longer than the recommended; walking four miles per hour would have likely nearly killed the both of them, but they would have been done in just over two hours. More than enough time for a pint or two before checking in. Now that would be an incentive to walk a bit more quickly.