Displaying items by tag: environment

Ghent, Oslo, Copenhagen and Madrid are cities that have made a concerted effort to make their centres car-free. In the UK, the city of Brighton & Hove could soon follow. But with no cars allowed, how does freight reach its destination?

What are Low Traffic Neighbourhoods?

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN) are areas in which motor vehicle through traffic is restricted using physical barriers or ANPR cameras. Each vehicle can still access streets inside the LTN but can’t pass through. Without through traffic, LTN internal roads become quieter, offering a more attractive environment to encourage a mode shift to walking and cycling. London has been installing LTNs since the 1970s. Approximately 95 new LTNs have been installed as part of TfL’s Streetspace programme, which was launched during the COVID pandemic. Car-free city centres are essentially more ambitious LTNs, with the city centre as one or several Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

LTNs and car-free city centres are controversial, one of the key concerns is how freight could be delivered to businesses in these areas. In Ghent, Belgium, one city which has implemented LTNs, essential transport such as emergency services and public transport retain access to the city centre, whereas freight is delivered using a combination of:

1. Re-timing

2. Consolidation; and

3. Switching from vans and lorries to cargo bikes and electric vehicles

Let’s look at how freight works in the car-free city centre of Ghent, Belgium.

Car-free city centre in Ghent, Belgium

Ghent’s Circulation Plan, introduced in April 2017, splits the city into seven Low Traffic Neighbourhoods with the centre having the tightest restrictions, albeit not entirely car-free.

Despite the Circulation Plan being seen with scepticism by national media before its implementation, the scheme has been a resounding success. In fact, a year after the plan’s introduction, Filip Watteeuw, Deputy Mayor, received his highest electoral score and was re-elected. The Circulation Plan has created a 40 per cent reduction in car use on key routes, a 25 per cent increase in bike use, and an 18 per cent reduction in inner city air pollution (Ref: Streetfilms).  


So how does freight work in Ghent?

Buses, taxis and emergency services are allowed access to the city centre, while all delivery vans must leave the area by 11am. Since the circulation plan was introduced, the city has seen a 20 per cent increase in new businesses in the hotel and restaurant industry with 7 per cent fewer bankruptcies, proving the initiative to not only be environmentally friendly, but a boost economically.

As businesses adapted their approach to freight deliveries, new cargo bike operators have emerged in the city. DHL now consolidate deliveries outside the city’s ring road, completing the last mile by bike. The city’s maintenance teams have also adopted cargo bikes for street cleaning and the management of green spaces. Even through the pandemic, courier Cargo Velo, have seen a surge in business to customer deliveries in the city centre. Multi-national supermarket, Carrefour, have made the move to using cargo bikes in Ghent through ShipTo. Cargo bikes, along with time-restricted van deliveries are helping Ghent’s businesses flourish.  

Combining electric vans, consolidation and cargo bikes, Ghent University and the City Council have begun ‘LOOP Ghent’. University deliveries are consolidated at a central hub, with the last mile completed by a single carrier using electric vehicles and cargo bikes. By consolidating deliveries into zero-emission vehicles, there are fewer delivery vehicles on the streets, with each vehicle producing fewer emissions, and each runs more fully-loaded. Ghent has proven that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods can be implemented without restricting the flow of goods to businesses.  

How a UK city is championing cleaner freight in its approach to become Carbon Neutral by 2030

In the UK, the city of Brighton & Hove is exploring the possibility of a ‘liveable city centre’ and are currently developing a pilot Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Hanover, as well as trialling five school streets closures, prohibiting motor vehicles from accessing some roads during school drop off and pick up times. Further  car-free measures could be introduced as early as 2023 as part of the council’s strategy to become a carbon neutral city by 2030 and in line with the findings of the resident-led and innovative Climate Assembly. If the changes go ahead, Brighton & Hove could employ similar measures as Ghent to keep their freight moving. 

In Brighton & Hove, transport is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions, accounting for a third of the city’s carbon emissions. Like other cities, it has seen a significant increase in the number of freight and delivery vehicles in recent years, with the growth in online shopping and takeaway orders; this has grown further in the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Since September 2020, MP Smarter Travel has been working with Brighton & Hove City Council to deliver the eCargo Bike Accelerator project to replace petrol and diesel vehicles with clean and efficient cargo bikes. In its first phase, the project has demonstrated that even without car-free measures, there is strong demand for zero emission deliveries across the city. 

Brighton & Hove businesses are showing that cargo bikes represent a feasible solution for many urban freight trips. Trade businesses Mittens Plumbing and Mid-Sussex Electrical recently joined the eCargo Bike Accelerator project and now complete the majority of their city-centre home visits by cargo bike, drastically reducing their emissions and saving each business £350 a month on fuel, insurance and parking.


Image courtesy of Brighton & Hove City Council, eCargo Bike Accelerator project

Brighton and Hove City Council are well-placed to consider complimentary transport adaptations, including access for emergency vehicles, public transport and freight as part of a potential liveable city centre. Freight movements could be re-timed to happen outside of peak commuting hours, with deliveries consolidated in micro-hubs on the city’s outskirts. As has been shown in our recent work, there is strong business demand for switching to cargo bikes. Once introduced, Brighton & Hove could be a leading example of this new approach to freight working in a car-free city centre.


Published in Blog

As part of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we took a look at some of history’s most influential women and their contributions to the world around us. From renewable energy to community-focused city and town planning, women across the globe have made great contributions to the natural and built environment making the world what it is today.


Kate Sessions

Katherine Olivia "Kate" Sessions (November 1857 – March 1940), otherwise known as “The Mother of Balboa Park,” was an internationally recognised American botanist, horticulturist landscape architect. 


She is credited with creating Balboa Park, California when she negotiated with the City of San Diego to lease 30 acres of land in what is now called Balboa Park, as her growing fields. In exchange she committed to planting 100 trees a year in the park plus a further 300 trees in other areas of San Diego, many of which can still be seen today.


Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs (May 1916 - April 2006) was a Canadian-American author, theorist, journalist and activist who greatly influenced the worlds of urban studies, sociology and economics.


Jacobs was instrumental in organising grassroots movements to protect neighbourhoods from what many coined as ‘urban renewal,’ including Greenwich Village in New York City. Her work was so powerful she stopped the Lower Manhattan Expressway. After many years in New York City, Jacobs moved to Toronto in 1968 where she stopped the proposed Spadina Expressway with the argument, “Are cities being built for people or cars?”. She was also known as ‘the mother of Vancouverism,’ for her work in urban planning in Vancouver.


Up until her death in 2006, Jacobs has been championed as a key figure in advocating for a community-based approach to city building.


Octavia Hill

Born in Cambridge, England, Octavia Hill (December 1838 - August 1912) was a leading figure in improving housing for the poor and advocating for open, public spaces.


Concerned by the living conditions found in London slums, she convinced John Ruskin to fund her concept for a new type of housing whereby a landlord provides a clean and safe property, and in return the tenant is responsible for maintenance. Proving to be a successful housing initiative, by 1874, Hill owned 15 properties with over 3,000 tenants and also designed a garden and a row of six cottages in Southwark, just a few minutes walk from our very own offices.


Hill also campaigned for parks and open outdoor spaces to be made accessible to the general public and fought against a number of proposed developments on forest land ultimately saving Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields from being built on. One of the three founders of the National Trust, her work continues today to preserve places of natural beauty and historical interest.


Sarah Guppy

Sarah Guppy (November 1770 - August 1852), was the first woman to patent a bridge in 1811, which involved making safe piling for bridges. 


Through a friend, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Guppy became involved in Great Western Railway working with the directors on various construction and travel projects and came up with the idea of planting willow trees and poplars to stabilise embankments.


Not limited to bridges and trains, Guppy was instrumental in lobbying for creating a network of local markets and traffic systems taking traffic out of the city and away from people’s homes avoiding unnecessary travel and a cleaner environment.

Published in Blog

Yesterday TfL revealed details of its new fund that will enable business groups to reduce car traffic, improve air quality, and mitigate the impacts of freight and van traffic in urban areas.

The fund follows on from the ‘Deliveries Reduction Fund’ which allocated £237,000 to business groups, including Team London Bridge for its cargo bike preferred suppliers scheme, which is currently being delivered by MP Smarter Travel.

The new fund at glance

  • Up to £50,000 from TfL per project, to be match-funded by the applicant or a sponsor
  • Open to Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and partnerships
  • Funding available to projects that either reduce vehicle trips and improve air quality, or evaluate the effectiveness of sustainable transport solutions to share best practice
  • Quantifiable outcomes are key to successful application
  • There is no fixed funding budget or cap on the number of successful applications. Funding will be awarded to applications that score sufficiently high across all elements of the assessment criteria.
  • Deadline for submissions is 19 March 2019

In addition to our current Team London Bridge cargo bike project, MP Smarter Travel supported Better Bankside’s Borough Market consolidation centre, and our staff have produced Delivery and Servicing Plans (DPS) for high-profile London businesses as part of Cross River Partnership’s ‘Clean Air Better Business’ programme.   

How we can help you secure funding

Our consultants are available to support business groups with applications to the Healthy Streets for Business fund. Here is how we can help:

  • Support with developing creative and feasible project concepts
  • Sharing knowledge of sustainable transport measures and best practice
  • Baseline data capture, a key element of your application as project outcomes will need to be quantified
  • Linking your business group with other business groups who may wish to joint bid
  • A named project delivery partner with an excellent track record and project portfolio

Deliveries reduction project idea toolkit

MP Smarter Travel has developed a comprehensive summary of all known behaviour change measures to reduce the impact of deliveries and freight at the Business Improvement District level. To download this free resource, click here.

If you would like to discuss your options for applying to the Healthy Streets Fund for Business, contact Arun Khagram on 0207 960 2553 or ank@mpsmartertravel.co.uk.

Published in Blog

The report, entitled Healthy Streets: a Business View, summarises the findings of a survey of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) regarding their attitudes towards the Healthy Streets Approach and their key project priorities.

According to the report, the overall message was that many BIDs strongly support the goals of the Healthy Streets Approach, even to the extent of being willing to contribute towards street changes. Only around half the BIDs rated their local area as good to walk or spend time in, and only just over a quarter said it was good for cycling.

Key report findings:

  • The top three types of interventions to improve the street environment proposed by BIDs were: improving public realm quality, reducing the amount of motor traffic, and improving pedestrian crossings.
  • Challenges included lack of funding and lack of organisational resources to deliver projects.
  • Places that performed better against the Healthy Streets Indicators tended to be those with priority for pedestrians over motor traffic, and places that performed worse tended to be dominated by motor traffic.
  • BIDs are interested in trialling schemes, including infrastructure schemes and projects to re-organise deliveries.

Key projects mentioned by BIDs:

  • Development of walking/cycling strategies to form a cohesive approach and unlock funding;
  • Reducing street clutter;
  • Increasing cycle parking and engaging with cyclists through a cycling forum; and
  • Reducing the number of motor vehicles, including measures to reduce the impact of delivery and servicing vehicles.


If you would like to discuss project ideas to improve the street environment feel free to get in touch.

Published in Blog

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