A trial of walking freight vehicles for last-mile deliveries has been launched in London by multinational courier service UPS and the Cross River Partnership (CRP).
The Cross River Partnership is a nonprofit partnership organisation that supports environmental, economic and community-focused projects.
The pilot, named The London Light Freight Walking Trial, will be taking place in Fitzrovia in the London borough of Camden, the trial aims to replace light goods vehicles (LGVs) with porters who transport freight on foot using an electric-assisted trolley (pictured above).
The ‘e-walkers’ will be used to deliver packages to local residents and businesses on a daily basis for the duration of the trial. Having officially started on 5 May, the trial is set to last until September 2024.
In May 2022, the CRP conducted a study into the feasibility of walking freight as a last mile delivery solution. It found that urban areas, for example in London, could see a number of benefits as a result of turning to walking freight for deliveries and collections. The main positives identified were decongestion, decarbonisation, improved air pollution, improved noise pollution, reduced road danger, and reduced road wear.
According to the study, the financial gain of these positive outcomes could result in a saving of £37m per year – a calculation that the CRP considers “a conservative estimate”.
The Walking Freight Feasibility Study also found that adopting walking freight as a means of last mile logistics could reduce the distance travelled by LGVs in Greater London by 0.4%.
Fiona Coull, senior programme manager at the Cross River Partnership, said: “Walking freight has real potential to reduce congestion and improve air quality, particularly in central, high-density locations such as Fitzrovia. We look forward to understanding the impacts of the trial, as it’s really important to explore these innovative logistics solutions and share any learnings gained.”
Sustainable urban logistics will a key focus at the 2024 Sustainable Supply Chain Conference, which will showcase the latest solutions for the sustainable movement of goods through urban environments. It will also offer thought leadership sessions on how to achieve ESG goals through a conference programme delivered by industry experts.