Vans could be banned from city centres under government plans to create more road space for cyclists as part of Boris Johnson’s £2billion anti-obesity drive. We take a look at what the implications could be for van and courier drivers in inner city centres and why the move to out of town centres for businesses could mean a boom time for suburban fleets.
The UK government’s announcement of its ambitious Clean Growth Strategy
is a blueprint for Britain’s low carbon future. As part of the strategy the UK published a new plan, which forms part of the Last Mile and Future of Mobility document*. This would see all light commercial vehicles banned from urban settings in larger cities and towns, replacing them with micro vehicles and cargo bikes that are powered by electricity.
The overall objective is that that the smaller, environmentally friendly, vehicles would help air quality whilst also cutting congestion.
It’s a sobering thought for those running courier and fleet operations, especially in the capital and the other major cities around the UK. It also comes alongside a multitude of initiatives designed to promote the development of self-governing vehicles and subsequently ban all sales of new petrol and diesel-only cars and vans by 2040.
Elsewhere new traffic lights are soon to be installed across three major UK cities to give cyclists and pedestrians right of way instead of cars. Trials are taking place in Coventry, Southampton and Wolverhampton to assess the possible benefits of the system. Whilst in Birmingham diesel car drivers will be charged £8 daily to enter the city’s ring road.
COVID and the Flight to the Suburbs
And it’s not just the new environmental regulations that could affect the fleet and courier business. There has been a substantial change in peoples’ house buying habits too and where they want to live. The benefits of the drop in commuting for carbon emissions, health and wellbeing are great for rural areas to the detriment of city centres.
In summer, the number of suburban and rural inquiries made to Rightmove, the UK’s largest online property website, from people living in 10 cities increased by 78% compared with the same period last year. There was a 126% increase in people considering properties in village locations, compared with a 68% rise in people searching for towns. Estate agents Hamptons recorded that more than 62 percent of new properties in Surrey and in Kent were bought by Londoners.
Companies themselves are preparing plans for flexible use of offices by ever more adaptable workforces. The numbers of people in central London and other big commuter cities across the UK are still far below pre-pandemic levels; and in September passengers on London Underground were less than 40 per cent of the typical levels for the time of year.
Rather than traditional commute to a nine to five desk-bound work in a city office location, employees are opting to spend the remainder of their week working from home.
For fleet and courier operators it is a mixed blessing. There is the opportunity to pivot your fleet to EV vehicles (see Our Friends Electric – EV and Eco Vehicles) or to relocate your fleet out of highly built up areas and save a ton of money on those punitive congestion and emission charges.
There are motor trade insurance savings to be made too. Whether you own a small fleet, a couple of taxi cars or a large mixed fleet containing vans, buses, cars, courier motorcycles and other vehicles, you can place them all under a single motor fleet insurance policy that will cover everything you need.
By re-locating your business to a lower risk, out-of-town area you could reduce your motor trade insurance premiums substantially. Avoiding city centre travel will also help prevent accidents leading to some potentially great insurance discounts for an established fleet.