Congestion is becoming a real issue in oxford and many other city centres and same day delivery under the traditional model of vans is beginning to feel the pain more and more. This got highlighted by a) many people we work with grumbling about traffic times b) lots of road works presently in oxford and c) by the example delivery below

I had a conversation with a client of ours last week, they use Pedal & Post for deliveries in the city centre at present and another national same day courier for deliveries outside the city

They had a need to get a 1m tube item to wheatly (just outside of oxford) and have it arrive before 9am. The national company said they couldn’t guarantee it before 9am due to having to come into the city to collect the item, then go back out to deliver and the likely congestion ment it would be late.

So the client came to us and asked if we could deliver it. Its out of our normal area but as we can put it with a normal push bike courier and not necessarily a cargo bike and the fact we have some very enthusiastic cyclists in our team, we agreed to deliver it. We’ll be delivering it on monday and plan to get it there before 9am.

What i find interesting is even with the huge resources, assets and funds, the national courier couldn’t compete with us, simply due to congestion and because we use bikes instead to get around it.

I only see three options going forward for the national courier, either;

  • They use bikes as well, which would require investment into this area in staff, equipment etc
  • partner with us at Pedal & Post
  • or face loosing the work to us and clients over time.

Any of these options benefits Oxford by removing vans and will improve congestion, air pollution and road safety (although thats another post)

although there is a fourth option, as unlikely as it may sound, could oxford improve its congestion? leaving aside the air pollution and road safety issues for now. Oxford is a historic city with narrow streets and a limited capacity of road space.

Measures such as a ZEZ (zero emission zone) will clean up our cities but will do little to tackle the overall problem of congestion. A clean traffic jam is still a traffic jam. A priority switch to walkng, cycling and public transport is already talked about and on paper but actions seem bleak. However what im most interested by is a congestion charge being discussed and the fact it could go a long way to improving things and i was persuaded around to the idea by a video i’ll link below

I dont see things improving anytime soon with the transport planners we have currently. Our new westgate shopping centre is set to open in October with a 1,000 car parking spaces and discounted parking encouraging private cars and the council have discounted surrounding car parks to match. This problem is going to get far worse before it gets better. Public transport like buses can reduce congestion by 10-30% but bus lanes are limited in oxford, abingdon rd and botley rd being examples so they suffer the same delays. Walking and cycling have big roles to play, especially when schools and work places are prioritised but our current infrastructure is a joke, pathways far too narrow so people are spilling into the roads (although high street is being improved as i type) and cycle lanes which are faded paint and nothing more.

The congestion problem is set to worsen nationally anyway, with a predicted 30% increase by 2025 so i hope oxford can implement measures now to reduce the effects, although my level of concern is replaced by joyful glee as i deliver on a cargo bike anyway and get to filter past bemused and helpless drivers in traffic with a smug smile as i go about my day.