Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Red Routes and Smart Motorways Come Under the Logistics and Road Haulage Microscopes

Decisions on Two very Different Road Types Get Very Different Reactions
Shipping News Feature

UK – Two different road types which are almost bound to always prove controversial are red routes, those areas where no parking is permitted under any circumstances, and smart motorways, blamed for several fatal and serious incidents since their inception, and both are mentioned by the road freight lobby this week.

The news that the cost of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued on London’s red routes, the network of major roads that make up 5% of the capital’s streets, but carry up to 30% of the city's traffic, will increase from 17 January 2022, has incensed Logistics UK, with Natalie Chapman, Head of Policy – South, commenting:

“Logistics businesses need road and kerbside access to deliver the essential items businesses and consumers in the capital need; Transport for London (TfL) has failed to identify in its research whether some businesses are receiving repeat fines due to the lack of safe and legal spots to load and unload deliveries that their livelihoods depend on.

”Without road design in place that supports logistics, this charge level increase will not provide the deterrent TfL intends, it will simply penalise some essential delivery and servicing activities. The costs of doing business in the capital are increasing already across the board, for example, the Congestion Charge is not returning back to its lower pre-pandemic level as was expected.

”Now is not the time to add yet another cost without a clear strategy, particularly while London and the rest of the UK recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Better news from the Road Haulage Association (RHA) after the announcement that the Department for Transport (DfT) made, stopping the roll-out of new all-lane smart motorways which has now been put on hold. These roads were designed originally with minimal gaps between parking areas but the rules and infrastructure have been watered down by successive administrations and are viewed as dangerous by many observers.

This latest move sees new schemes paused until there is a full 5 years of safety data on current projects. It was announced alongside an additional £900 million in safety measures for existing all-lane running motorways (ALR). An investment of £390 million in 150 additional emergency areas for drivers will also be put in place, creating a 50% increase in places to stop by 2025. Commenting, RHA Executive Director, Policy and Public Affairs, Rod McKenzie, said:

“The RHA supports smart motorways as they reduce congestion and pollution by keeping traffic moving, but the advantages of all-lane running must never outweigh safety. It’s vital that safety comes first so this pause is welcome as is additional funding for upgrading safety measures on existing all-lane running motorways. It is also crucial that these safety measures include better education about the use of smart motorways for all road users.”