As you may of read in the many headlines, oxford plans to introduce a zero emission zone. This would begin in 2020 and be implemented across 4 stages, 2020-2035
There is a whole range of information on this in the study you can read here but the council have narrowed it down to 4 options in how to implement the zero emission zone, from the area it will cover to what vehicles it will include. They are as follows.

zero emission all 4 options

These options and the colours relate to this map:

map zez

We plan to lobby for option 4, although it seems the council from the press release at least is favouring or going with option 3 which still includes LCV’s but only in the red area.

To clarify going into this, Pedal & Post are already more cost effective than diesel vans and more efficient at making deliveries in a city centre teamed up with our micro consolidation centre (i’ll follow up with the benefits of an MCC in another post). The problem is engaging with National companies around the issue and changing hearts and minds to what cargo bikes can achieve. These regulations mean this discussion comes to light and can’t be ignored, a solution has to be found and we can be that solution. An Eu study into cycle logistics estimates that cargo bikes can move 51% of all goods going into a city. This is also touched on in the ZEZ study:

In addition, electric bikes or pedelecs (electric bicycles) are a feasible option that increase the potential for shifting to cycling, especially for urban cargo deliveries.

The reason we have chosen option 4 is the ZEZ will apply in 2020 to Light commercial vehicles in the red zone. This is likely to have little impact on the logistics community as its such a small area and a number of operators including TNT already have electric 7.5 ton lorries in use but it will begin to lay the ground work for how logistics, couriers and parcel carriers expand to the orange and green areas. A CAZ, clean area zone requiring all vehicles to be above euro 6 would be implemented in the orange zone at the same time and make a real difference to some of the pollution hotspots (speedwell street, george street, st giles, new road etc) and again force logistics companies to begin to invest in improving their fleets or to avoid the cost consider working with third parties who have the infrastructure in place.

So how would it effect certain types of deliveries? and further, business’s in oxford?

Last mile deliveries, (Packet/small/medium parcels) parcel carriers (UPS, Fedex, Yodel, Hermes, DHL, DPD, TNT, DX, Royal Mail etc) will have to change, given that less than 20% of parcel carriers are even open to the idea of using a micro consolidation centre like ours, the easiest route for most carriers will be to invest and switch to electric vans. Most parcel carriers employ their couriers and provide vans to use so just need to be given the kick up the arse to make the change. It will be more difficult around self employed couriers, the couriers themselves are unlikely to invest in the EV’s as most of the work is punted as being part time and it makes options like Pedal & Post much more viable option for carriers with this business model and generally carry on operating as normal. We have already achieved this working with Yodel the national parcel carrier and have another trial contract coming up we can talk about after christmas with another carrier. So in conclusion this will have little impact and be easily implemented, we have the evidence and data to support this via our own business case study and numerous examples across the uk and europe whilst also national carrier strategies including dhl and ups intend to go 0 emission as well.

Food / Cold chain delivery, This is more of a challenge but not impossible, Bubblepost in europe do exactly this, have a read here. On our urban consolidation centre we don’t have the facilities to keep food cold right now or the bikes but it would be easy to invest in if the will to change the supply chain was there, for now you’ll have to put up with the massive brakes lorries etc but i think working on this in partnership with the covered market (located in the red zone) and producers there on a smaller scale / trials could work well and prepare us for a larger scale operation. This is doable, not as easily implemented but with time and investment this could very well be feasible but more research and case studies would be needed.

Same day delivery, Congestion is so bad this isn’t really an issue, we provide a lot of same day deliveries from retail items, to medication, to printing and food items. Currently vans can’t compete anyway and we see us replacing 100% of local same day deliveries.

First mile collections, On our online booking we intend to offer national and international delivery options. Now we aren’t going to be cycling them there, we can collect from city centre stores, bring the items back to our site and onforward them into 48 national and international carriers. Carriers prefer this as they can collect in bulk from our MCC instead of each individual business. This means we can gain economies of scale and better rates which will be forwarded onto business’s. This means lower delivery costs for local business’s and reduced congestion, air pollution etc. If the items are too big we can still send the carriers van direct but it means another 50% of van trips could be reduced here.

Bulky freight, (large, two man deliveries) Okay, so dont expect cycle logistics to be taking over DFS sofa deliveries anytime soon but large parcels are feasible but the catch is it would require a larger investment into cycling infrastructure. Many people have seen images like the one below and this image is used in the zez study as well. This means we can take on entire postcode areas and all parcels going into them from national carriers. Most carriers limit parcels to a certain weight and size (usually 25kg and 2m in length)


In logistics, capacity, speed, accessibility/parking are the main factors of efficiency.
This DHL option of using velove quadcycles isn’t possible with the current cycling infrastructure. This is an issue local to oxford city centre, historically narrow streets present a problem for trikes and quadcycles. Whilst these types of bikes offer improved capacity, sometimes as much as 6 times the capacity over two wheeled cargo bikes (0.34m3 – 1.5m3) and have the same accessibility to pedestrian areas, they stumble if they can’t filter through traffic and use cycle lanes, so they are only as fast as a van in congestion. An EV van has a bigger capacity, so the better choice from an efficiency point of view would be the ev van over quadcycles, but this doesn’t solve congestion or parking issues in the city to opt for an EV van, so you can see the dilemma.

A clean traffic jam, is still a traffic jam.

We are also going to experiment with using trailers to try and get around the fact oxford has narrow cycle lanes, mounting them on the back of normal electric push bikes, they offer double the capacity (1m3) and additional stability as they can’t fall over like two wheeled bikes can on rare occasions so this allows for any size rider to be able to manage these deliveries safely too

trailer 4

Air pollution, Congestion, better use of City space and the move away from fossil fuels is an exciting and challenging issue to solve in dense urban cities, especially in the last mile of delivery and logistics. We aren’t the whole solution, nor a silver bullet to these issues but we can get oxford 51% of the way there. Thats something our team should be incredibly proud of if we can get there and help oxford in the process.