Government plans to reallocate road space for increased walking and cycling could hamper work by logistics firms and impede deliveries.
The warning comes from the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which says the measures announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps over the weekend, including a call for more active travel to relieve pressure on public transport, could affect the industry as Brits return to work.
The Department for Transport measures will include a £250m emergency active travel fund that will be used to enable local authorities in England to create pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors.
But the FTA warns this could create barriers to the logistics industry, which as it highlights is playing a vital role in keeping supplies moving around the country and within our towns and cities.
Natalie Chapman, head of urban policy at FTA, said: “While we and our members fully support the government’s intentions – to protect the public from COVID-19 and improve air quality significantly as the economy returns to normal – the needs of our sector must not be overlooked.”
The FTA’s areas of concern are two-fold: access to the kerbside for deliveries and servicing activity and potential increases in journey times. And it’s calling for any “temporary” reallocation of road space for walking and cycling to have the ability to be flexed and changed in a dynamic way to reflect changes in demand and to accommodate a growing need for kerbside access as economic activity resumes.
The FTA also says roads should only be closed where it would not cause an unduly large diversion and consideration must be given to the impacts of displaced traffic on nearby roads.
It also says enforcement against delivery vehicles must be proportionate and focused on vehicles that are causing an obstruction to traffic flow or danger to road safety.
One possible solution would be reviewing restrictions on delivery hours to enable, where possible, deliveries to take place at times when the roads are quieter, including earlier in the morning, later in the evening, overnight and at weekends.
Chapman continued: “Consultations with local businesses are also vital before plans are implemented wherever possible, even though their shop-fronts may be closed, so they can make sure proposals meet their needs when they re-open. By working together, we can ensure the final plans for our towns and cities benefit all involved: the safety of citizens, the quality of our air, and the smooth operation of logistics.”