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Westminster bookable EV loading bays will boost green deliveries

Grid Smarter Cities’ Kerb system seeks to provide certainty for electric van operators

Mark Moran
08 March 2024
The Kerb app
Grid Smarter Cities` Neil Herron with Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg
Grid Smarter Cities` Neil Herron with Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg

 

The councillor in charge of transport and air quality in the City of Westminster says a new online booking system for electric delivery vans to remotely reserve places to unload will help businesses do their day-to-day job of delivering to businesses, shops, restaurants and cafes.

Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, who is Westminster Council’s cabinet member for city management and air quality, attended the launch of an 18-month project with software solutions company Grid Smarter Cities involving two loading bays near Covent Garden and Victoria Street last week. 

The scheme allows drivers of electric vans can to pre-book a loading and unloading space for up to 90 minutes, 24 hours a day. This means that delivery drivers get surety of a space in advance, reducing idling and search time and also allowing them to park long enough to make onward deliveries by greener modes, such as by foot or cargo bike.

“There’s huge competition for kerbside space,” said Cllr Dimoldenberg. “We recognise more than 40 different users of the kerb, and it's impossible to keep up unless we are on top of it 24 hours, seven days a week. So what we're trying to do is try new ways of managing the kerb, so that we can keep on top of it, we can keep the city moving, we can reduce congestion.”

The Kerb suite, developed by Grid Smarter Cities, comes with an app, online interface and is accompanied by an on-street e-ink sign. Drivers can report rogue vehicles if the space is being used without a booking on arrival.

“There's no driving around looking for a space in a busy central London location, like Covent Garden or Victoria, where we've got the first two trials,” Cllr Dimoldenberg continued.  “This gives the distribution companies the ability to pre-plan where are they going to park, so they've got a defined time to deliver the goods. And they can do it quickly, efficiently and without any fuss or delays.”

The two spaces are located in Abbey Orchard Street and Russell Street and the success of the trial will be monitored to provide a case to expand across the City of Westminster.  “We're not going to change the world with two bays,” the councillor explained. “But if it works over the next 18 months, then it gives us the go ahead to unveil more of these bays, right across Westminster so that we have a network of bays so that businesses can have a choice of where they book a spot at a time that suits them.”

Neil Herron, chief executive from Grid Smarter Cities, said: “Grid Smarter Cities is excited to be launching our first bookable EV only loading bays in the heart of London with Westminster City Council. The Kerb app enables commercial EV drivers to book their slots in signed ‘permit’ loading bays which help better manage freight, servicing and delivery activities at the kerbside. This is an exciting change from the first come first served approach to kerbside access. The deployment represents a major digital leap forward for councils to optimise kerbside management and for operators to undertake deliveries in a more efficient manner and aligns with Westminster’s Carbon Reduction Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan helping prioritise carbon reduction through reduced traffic and congestion.”

Drivers who wish to use these initial bays must be pre-registered and the vehicle must be fully electric. EV delivery fleet operators or drivers who deliver within the areas of Russell Street and Abbey Orchard Street in Westminster can register at westminsterkerb@gridsmartercities.com or can sign up here.

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