Analysis

Delivery vehicles increasing chokehold on London, study finds

Echoing concerns voiced by former London Mayor, Boris Johnson MP, a recent study has highlighted the increasing number of delivery vans as a reason for London’s congested road network.

This is a view put forward by the UK Warehouse Association (UKWA) last month when it called for the government to intervene in the issue of urban planning regulations. “Everyone in the business of moving food and beverages into and around London is aware of the increasing difficulties.” Peter Ward, CEO of the UKWA said at the time.

Now, a transport data company, Inrix, has looked into congestion in the capital and found the two main causes to be roadworks and deliveries, which have together contributed to a 12% year-on-year increase in journey times in central London since 2012. Traffic across the whole of the UK reached its busiest point last year according to the Department for Transport, which shows congestion is continues to rise on Britain’s roads.

Since 2012, the study found there has been an 8% increase in vans within the central London congestion charge zone. In response to the findings, David Leam, infrastructure director of business group London First, urged for more congestion-beating measures, including more charges: “London’s roads are increasingly congested, but this isn’t down to a boom in car journeys,” he said.

“As this report shows, car traffic is actually decreasing in central London, while van traffic and roadworks have risen significantly.

“What’s needed is for the new mayor to ease off excessive roadworks, build new river crossings, devise a plan for managing freight and revisit measures to control congestion, including charging.”

The eDelivery View:

The problem affecting London can be seen in other UK cities too, and is typified by urban road networks with their roots in the 19th Century – older in many cases – struggling to cope with the demands of the 21st Century, while planning regulations that were set in the 1990s no longer reflect the manner in which people in towns and cities live nor how they shop.

Across the UK planning regulations restrict replenishment deliveries to shops and supermarkets, despite Sunday being the second busiest shopping day of the week. Similarly, little space is given over in new in-town developments to the needs of the operations and logistics sector, with warehouse and DC space relegated to out-of-town areas.

This leaves the burden of responsibility for stock replenishment on delivery networks built on larger, more remotely located centres and the larger vehicles that service them.

None of which necessarily addresses the challenges of getting light goods vehicles round one of Europe’s most congested cities making deliveries of items bought online – a problem that gets compounded during peak shopping periods. With a growing list of collection alternatives – from CollectPlus to Doddle, through to operations such as Shutl – there are emerging opportunities to start consolidating deliveries into lower-impact directions. But with all of these offers currently operating independently, there’s no immediate indication of there being a one-stop collections hub network to ease some of these pressure points.

 

Image credits:
  • London, Canary Wharf from Thames, by S Nova (own work), Wikimedia Commons, link