Urban logistics challenges are only going to increase as city populations increase, Natalie Chapman, head of South England and urban policy at the Freight Transport Association, said when she spoke at the CiTTi exhibition on Tuesday.
Air quality, safety and congestion are all inner- city issues, said Chapman. For example, London’s new ULEZ zone is forcing businesses to upgrade their fleets ahead of time which is having an impact on vehicle lifecycle and speeding up the whole process. This is costly and not always the best thing for the environment.
And safety, this is an issue for city logistics as vehicles need to be as safe as possible, said Chapman. Likewise, congestion is a major issue – it is both bad for businesses as it costs to keep a HGV running whist in congestion as well as generating unnecessary pollution.
Finally, in addition to these issues, kerbside access is another problem for logistics. Chapman noted that there is a lack of loading space availability, delivery restrictions, cycle infrastructures, street furniture, pedestrianisation and other regulations that are making it harder for logisticians to make their deliveries.
She referenced the London Lorry Scheme which means that trucks must take alternative routes that are often long-winded so that in the long more there is more pollution being generated.
Therefore, Chapman suggested that lorries should be judged on what they do and not their size. She pointed out that sometimes having one large lorry is in fact more beneficial than a huge fleet of vans as these will still generate congestion and contribute to other urban issues. Get the right vehicle for the right job, said Chapman.
Likewise, for cargo bikes, she continues, they are not always the solution. A large fleet of cargo bikes would still require a large amount of land to store them and would still take up road space.
Chapman put forward suggestions to remedy this. The industry needs to have deliveries retimed, she said, and there needs to be investment in logistics land and supporting infrastructure. For example, investing in electric fleets requires both space and infrastructure. Likewise, the industry need consistent regulations and rules as currently different cities are all implementing different initiatives which is looking a bit like ‘patchwork’ said Chapman.
The CiTTi Exhibition and Conference took place at the MK Arena in Milton Keynes on 18th-19th June.