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Rivers deliver a way to beat congestion

Grid Smarter Cities pilots Kerb-Dock in London

05 January 2023
The Kerb-Dock concept


A new kerbside management platform utilises rivers could help deliver a solution to address traffic problems in heavily congested cities.

Grid Smarter Cities has been awarded funding by Impact on Urban Health (IoUH) for an initiative that enables cross-modal deliveries moving from river to road using its Kerb platform.

The Kerb-Dock pilot will help businesses and logistics operators look at how future freight strategy could change in cities. The project has identified from other studies that the cross-docking environment will be essential for scaling or removing road mileage from freight journeys, it is a very delicate environment with a multitude of stakeholders. By investigating the management of this space will help to make safe and informed decisions collectively for less congested cities for the future.

The solution will allow current freight, servicing and delivery vehicles to pre-book designated kerbside spaces alongside Bankside Pier in Southwark, south-east London, through a digital booking platform.

Better management of this space could help alleviate road traffic congestion, monitor air quality, and noise pollution, and ensure safety for pedestrians and other road users. The allocated spaces will include a smart ‘e-ink’ variable message sign with booking information and other data such as local air quality and noise levels which will be beneficial to the local community.

Ben Pearce, portfolio manager on the health effects of air pollution programme at Impact on Urban Health, said: “Air pollution is the single greatest environmental threat to health. The people who are most affected by air pollution are often those who have contributed the least to the problem: Children, older people, people with health conditions, people from minoritised ethnicities and people living in areas of deprivation. Clearly, urgent action is needed to improve air quality.

“Freight journeys can be a significant source of air pollution in London. That means we must think creatively about how to reduce the polluting effects of freight and get vehicles off the road.

“Part of that solution is using the river to make deliveries, so we’re excited to be working with Grid, Southwark and Port of London Authority to pilot the use of boats to make deliveries into Bankside.”

Grid Smarter Cities hopes its Kerb-Dock system will enable the smoother cross-modal logistics transfer from river-to-road allowing zero emission last mile delivery modes such as electric vans and cargo bikes to complete their last mile journey more easily – whilst enabling delivery vehicles to reduce vehicle mileage in cities, improve operational efficiency and reduce the risks of penalty charge notices (PCNs).

The Kerb-Dock initiative will look to address how future freight movements may be planned and operated in already congested city centres. The project has a multitude of stakeholders involved who have responsibility for highways, rivers, public realm, local businesses, and freight operators.

Neil Herron, chief executive of Grid Smarter Cities, said: “Kerb-Dock aligns the use of a practical and readily available kerbside management solution to alleviate the current pressures and future scaling challenges experienced when transitioning larger quantities of light freight from river to an EV van or cargo bike for the last mile.”

The Kerb-Dock Project will be evaluated by Steer – a infrastructure and transport consultancy with expertise in urban freight and will be leading the evaluation piece of the KDP. Steer will be engaging with key stakeholders throughout the KDP process to hear all perspectives about the trial’s impact in terms of meeting wider objectives such as businesses using pre-bookable slots and looking to move greater volumes of light freight by river (transferring from road), and the associated environmental and traffic congestion benefits that this transfer should achieve.

The Kerb-Dock Project is funded by Impact on Urban Health in association with Grid Smarter Cities and Southwark Council.

The Kerb-Dock project will be used by selected operators who are currently delivering to the area and who be sharing lessons learnt with a wider range of the freight sector.

Kerb-Dock will provide certainty through advanced booking of designated delivery locations along the Bankside Pier which can allow for increased use of the river as a sustainable artery, while also delivering a solution for existing road based deliveries to local businesses who want to do this more efficiently whilst minimising their impact to the environment and community. 

By dynamically managing urban spaces, seamless transfers of freight from river to road can be done more efficiently, speeding up the transition to more zero-carbon last-mile delivery modes such as electric vehicles (EVs) and cargo bikes. Using a ‘dynamic kerbside management’ approach allows spaces to be used for different stakeholders at different times of the day. With better management of spaces between users enabling a safer and cleaner environment for pedestrians, vehicles and businesses.

Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) Programme Administrator - Rail North Partnership
Transport for the North
£28,990.00 - £34,588.00 Per Annum
Traffic Management Officer – Technical Specialist x2
Bristol City Council
100 Temple Street, Bristol, BS1 6AG
BG13 £44,428 - £47,240
Traffic Management Officer – Technical Specialist x2
Bristol City Council
100 Temple Street, Bristol, BS1 6AG
BG13 £44,428 - £47,240
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