Urban transport leaders have called for freight to be moved off city centre roads at ‘every opportunity’ to improve safety, reduce congestion and develop more enjoyable streets.
A report from the Passenger Transport Executive Group (pteg) highlights that transportation of goods to city areas is essential to the UK economy but must be taken by rail and water as much as possible.
City railway stations have a ‘great potential’ to act as central hubs for the distribution of goods and could act as ‘high speed mobile warehouses’ for freight services, according to the Delivering the future report.
‘For our urban areas, getting freight right is part of a much wider debate about what kind of cities we want to live in and how we want them to look and feel. The movement of goods brings enormous benefits, but also challenges for our cities,’ Geoff Inskip, lead director general for integration at pteg, said.
‘Smart cities will embrace the opportunity this report presents to create cleaner, safer and more attractive environments for residents, businesses and investors alike.’
Urban areas should also be connected to canals and rivers wherever possible to support waterborne transport.
And the public sector should consolidate deliveries around Urban Consolidation Centres (UCCs) on the outskirts of city areas, which would ideally also be connected to rail and water, the report states.
Transport leaders said such approaches would open up the possibility for short-range, low emission vehicles to transport goods over the last mile of a journey. However to succeed, these services would need to be achieved as ‘safely, unobtrusively and with as little environmental impact’ as possible.
Calls were also raised for any van and lorry journeys to be made as safe and green as possible, with improved vehicle design, better education of road users and incentives to encourage greater take-up of environmentally friendly technology.
Pteg emphasised the importance of well-enforced industry standards, yet highlighted a need for the identification of any inconsistencies or confusion in operators.
The report also called for transport providers to be encouraged to deliver innovations in parcel pick up points at stations through some form of challenge fund.