The impact on the workforce should also be taken into consideration as the logistics sector is one of few that provides job opportunities to local, low-skilled workers. A reduction in logistics operation in a city will lead to a loss in job opportunities that may be not easily replaced. Unemployment will result not only in pressure on social security systems but also create instability in local communities.
Implementation of zero-emission zones cannot merely rely on all freight operators swapping their diesel vehicles with zero-emission vehicles with the same performance. It requires various supporting instruments such as charging infrastructure and micro-logistics hubs. Charging infrastructure in city centre areas is essential for electric vehicles, including electric cargo bikes. Development of charging infrastructure needs a strong public private partnership that can support charge point operators’ business models to be sustainable and successful. Deployment of charging points will require data from the logistics companies to understand their operation patterns.
THE ALL-IMPORTANT LAST MILE
As many cities wish to facilitate the use of cargo bikes for last mile delivery to support the implementation of zero-emission zones, micro-logistics hubs in city centre areas are essential for the use of cargo bikes that cannot carry a large amount of goods and travel only for a short distance. A question of how to best use urban space emerges.
Converting conventional retail space or residential buildings to micro-hubs will not be popular as some cities in Europe have stopped the now controversial ‘dark store’ practices. Dark stores are shops with no windows and no clients. They exist for delivery only and are springing up in European cities brought about by the latest evolution of e-commerce.
As many cities wish to facilitate the use of cargo bikes for last mile delivery to support the implementation of zero-emission zones, micro-logistics hubs in city centre areas are essential
REAL LOGISTICS INNOVATION IN MADRID
Madrid has set a good example of converting local parking spaces to micro-hubs for its zero-emission zones in the city centre. Madrid’s local parking management company has teamed up with logistics operators to convert underground parking lots to micro-hubs. This is co-beneficial, as the implementation of the zero-emission zone will reduce the use of vehicles, resulting in spare parking capacity that is much needed by the logistics sector. The Madrid municipality authority has played the facilitator role in forming the partnership between the parking management company and logistics operators, as well as providing all necessary support needed by various stakeholders. Madrid’s new micro-hub reduces the distance travelled for deliveries by 33%. This good example shows that a local authority can not only help to mitigate negative impacts from implementation of a zero-emission zone but can also help local business to thrive at the same time.
To ensure success of zero-emission zones, pilot projects allowing stakeholders to test new operational procedures and collaboration schemes, collecting data for an initial impact assessment have been recommended by the publication of How-to Guide On Zero-Emission Zones - Don’t Wait to Start with Freight, jointly published by the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance, C40, and POLIS. The co-creation of pilot projects by the public and the private sector can help to build trust between them and give confidence to the private sector for investments into zero-emission solutions. Private companies should actively participate in such pilot projects to contribute to forming a policy framework that will work for everyone.
The co-creation of pilot projects by the public and the private sector can help to build trust between them and give confidence to the private sector for investments into zero-emission solutions
In the post-COVID era, e-commerce is likely to continue to grow and urban freight transport will continue to grow and become even more complex than today’s. A proactive approach to address future challenges is therefore needed. Implementation of zero-emission zones in a city should not force business or logistics operators to increase cost, which will eventually become a burden on consumers, thus leading to reduced competitiveness of the economy of the city. This would not be sustainable and an undesirable vision for any policy maker.
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