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Dynamic kerb management will deliver the goods

Bookable loading bays for the freight, servicing and delivery sectors are a reality, says Neil Herron

Neil Herron
01 December 2021
Grid Smarter Cities` Kerb system allows deliveries to be booked into virtual kerbside timeslots


New research by the capital’s politically independent think-tank Centre for London has set out an ambitious roadmap to make deliveries and freight journeys more sustainable and efficient. The report highlights the environmental impact of existing delivery methods and was published to coincide with COP26.

Freight access, congestion and air pollution are growing issues for London. The Centre for London research highlights that by 2030, demand for parcels will have doubled in the capital. New, efficient and sustainable solutions are needed to meet this growth in consumer demand which offset the environmental, economic and social impacts presented across the capital by the freight industry.

The Centre for London research, published as Worth the Weight, has provided recommendations to meet these challenges, include the implementation of a dynamic kerbside management scheme.

Innovative kerbside management technology is being designed with and for the freight industry to combat growing sector specific challenges. The solution provides a platform whereby fleet drivers can book slots for kerbside access to deliver goods and services to the right place at the right time – improving delivery certainty.

A bookable, managed kerbside, also dynamically increases kerbspace availability, giving cities more flexibility in how this scarce asset can be better utilised – think loading bay in the morning, cargo bike delivery bay in the afternoon, streaterie in the evening and taxi rank by night.This flexible approach presents a win-win solution to improve city access and mobility for both the freight operators and city authorities – supporting improvements in congestion, air quality and demand issues at both a macro and hyperlocal level.

Kerbside management is a solution with relatively low implementation costs and minimal infrastructure. Unlike other recommendations in the report this scheme can be introduced under existing policy and legislative frameworks (which prevents the need to wait for legislative change) and can be implemented with immediate effect, then scaled, embracing both borough roads and the strategic Transport for London Road Network (TLRN).

Kerb is a smart kerbside management platform developed by Grid Smarter Cities. It is an industry-led solution that can be readily deployed by boroughs and scaled across the capital, helping to solve delivery problems and improve kerbside access for the freight, servicing and delivery sectors; while further tackling congestion, air quality and road safety challenges. Grid Smarter Cities will release a research report by Stantec which models the benefits of a fully deployed scheme for London before the end of 2021.

A fully deployed kerbside management scheme demonstrates immediate benefits for:

  • Freight, servicing and delivery operators through operational efficiencies, reduced circling and idling and safer deliveries with increased compliance and reduced penalty charge notices (PCNs). Operators have benefitted from a 21% increase in productivity due to less time searching for suitable kerbspace to unload goods and services (i.e. parcels delivered). The solution has been designed with delivery drivers at the core of the user experience.
  • London boroughs, with the ability to more flexibly manage and increase the kerbspace capacity, generate positive revenues and introduce electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure at locations where vehicles dwell to deliver enabling ‘graze’ charging. The scheme has the potential to generate positive revenues of around £140m per annum for London.
  • The environment with reduced congestion and CO2 and NOX emissions from fewer miles driven and fewer circling delivery vehicles who are seeking a suitable and safe place to unload. The scheme could save up to 15,000 tonnes of CO2 per year in London.
  • The wider community through positive health outcomes from improved air quality and increased safety and a better urban realm for both residents and businesses.

We welcome the timing of the report and the key Centre for London research recommendation that: “London boroughs and Transport for London should embrace dynamic kerb management, which would give delivery vehicles safer and more reliable access while minimising impacts on other road users.”

We have a unique opportunity to showcase London to the world with the implementation of a dynamic, bookable kerbside management solution that reduces congestion, improves air quality and enables businesses and communities to receive goods and services more efficiently.

A solution which can be implemented now to have an immediate and quantifiable impact on reducing CO2 emissions, echoing the COP26 call for leaders to act by delivering impacts and outcomes now. In ten years’ time we will look back and say: “Did we really allow delivery companies to fight for kerbspace on a first come first served basis, rather than booking delivery slots that guarantee access?”

Neil Herron is the founder and chief executive of Grid Smarter Cities, a sponsor of the Centre for London research report Worth the Weight: Making London’s deliveries greener and smarter

Case study: Making on-street loading more reliable

Grid Smarter Cities is partnering with the London Borough of Southwark to pilot a dynamic kerbside management system that will make loading and deliveries more reliable in the borough.

Many businesses rely on on-street loading to operate, but may not have a nearby loading bay for convenient deliveries. However, inconsiderate loading directly from the carriageway can create congestion and danger. The pilot includes three innovations that address this problem:

  • Virtual loading bays that can be activated in specific circumstances (for example, if a loading bay is already in use, or to meet the delivery needs of a business)
  • Dynamic e-ink smart signs that change to display the current use
  • Booking information.

The service will be funded by the London Borough of Southwark and is expected to run for two years. Delivery firms may pay a fee to use the service, but Grid Smarter Cities believes they will find this more cost-effective than the annual charge for parking tickets, and will also benefit from increased reliability of deliveries. If paired with rapid charging points, advance booking guarantees electric delivery vehicles a charge point en route if they need it.

In the areas where the scheme has already been rolled out, delivery firms have experienced a 21% efficiency saving in their last-mile deliveries to urban areas. This is alongside a 6.6% reduction in NOx emissions from all road transport, a 5.8% reduction in PM2.5 emissions, and a 4.6% fall in CO2 emissions, according to research by Grid Smarter Cities.

Further modelling commissioned by Grid Smarter Cities and carried out by consultancy Stantec suggests that rolling out dynamic kerbside management for loading and deliveries would reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 13,000 cars off London’s roads. Stantec note this is equivalent to the carbon emissions reduction achieved by the introduction of the ULEZ in central London.

Crucially, dynamic kerbside management will provide local authorities with data on the demand for loading and delivery space, which can then be used to optimise kerb use. Loading bay access can be added where needed, as well as charging points for delivery vehicles, or limits on deliveries to specific times of day that allow for other uses. For instance, a restaurant might want to be able to receive deliveries safely earlier in the day before turning over the space for tables and chairs.

The Loads Easier webinar

The research findings and the benefits of a kerbside management scheme will be explored in a webinar featuring Stantec, Grid Smarter Cities, Logistics UK, Brewery Logistics Group and e-cargo bike delivery specialists.

The panel will discuss issues such as challenges currently faced by retailers and delivery companies, potential benefits of digitising the kerbside, mapping and digitalising kerbsides, Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) and regulatory regimes, managing and enforcing digital kerbside management, and the future of kerb space.

Produced by Landor LINKS and sponsored by Grid Smarter Cities, the free webinar is being held on 8 December from 10.30am to 12pm.

To register for this free event click here

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