20 May 2020
Recent announcements by the Government regarding people returning to work have emphasised the need to walk or cycle in order to avoid overcrowding public transport (see Government publishes its COVID-19 recovery strategy and Government puts cash behind getting people to bike to work).
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said that he wanted to put cycling and walking at the heart of the Government’s transport policy and has promised local authorities £250 million for a series of swift, emergency interventions to make cycling and walking safer, including pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements, and more cycle and bus-only streets.
This has worried the Freight Transport Association (FTA) with Head of Urban Policy, Natalie Chapman, highlighting that these plans overlook the key role which logistics plays in keeping cities and towns stocked with the goods and services they require.
In particular, she argued, they fail to provide the scope needed to ensure logistics operators can supply their customers safely and effectively.
“While the Government seeks to encourage active travel and social distancing through its strategy, which are both laudable ambitions, there are many areas affecting the safe movement of goods and services which have been left out of the plan,” she explained.
Accordingly, the FTA has written to Transport Minister Baroness Vere to request urgent clarification on several areas which it sees as key to safe and efficient logistics movements through the nation’s cities.
It is urging local authorities to provide reassurance that access to the kerbside for deliveries and servicing activity is maintained at all times — particularly as shops begin to reopen and demand for goods increases.
The FTA argues that any temporary reallocation of road space for walking and cycling must be flexible and changed dynamically to reflect changes in demand, and to ensure access for vital logistics services.
“It would be preferable, too, if restrictions on delivery hours could be reviewed to enable, where possible, for deliveries to take place at times when the roads are quieter, including earlier in the morning, later in the evening, overnight and at weekends to enable businesses to get back on their feet without interruption or delay,” Ms Chapman concluded.