Metro exploring how to keep e-commerce deliveries from choking traffic

Some cities are switching to e-cargo bikes to avoid congestion, and safety-conscious BC groups are calling for lower speed limits and higher fines for violators

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Navdeep Chhina often encounters drivers parking vehicles in bike lanes, forcing him to stop or ride in a car lane.

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“It’s more than a nuisance, it’s dangerous,” said Chhina, campaigns and inclusion manager at HUB Cycling.

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As more and more trucks and vans deliver for online stores, they’re causing problems in cities where roads and sidewalks are already heavily used.

A Metro Vancouver study of how e-commerce affects traffic says communities need to consider and develop these delivery methods.a comprehensive loading and unloading zone strategy.”

Regional planners said consumer demand for faster delivery and attempts by businesses to streamline deliveries and save money means drivers need “adequate and immediate access” to the curb.

The planners said drones and self-driving vehicles are not yet a reality, but electric cargo bikes could replace gas-powered vehicles, as they recently did in London, where the population density is lower than downtown Vancouver.

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Cities could also set up “micro-distribution centers” where consumers can pick up goods.

The study states that before developing a policy, a nationwide inventory of loading zones, curbs and congestion points is required.

Meanwhile, cyclists have to contact drivers parking on the bike lanes for quick in and out, which Chhina said creates conflict.

He tweeted about a Canada Post van and truck blocking his path recently, noting that the truck was empty and the van driver told him, “You know what.”

Canada Posts tweeted back asking for the vehicle and license plate numbers so they could investigate.

However, Chhina said it is not fair to prosecute drivers given that it is the responsibility of their employers to train drivers and the province’s role in changing laws to counter the rise in e-commerce delivery.

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HUB Cycling is one of several groups that make up BC’s Road Safety Law Reforms Group, which has made recommendations to change the rules of the road.

Among the recommendations:

• Requiring drivers to keep a distance of 1 to 1.5 meters from other road users when overtaking, which is already a legal requirement in 39 US states and Canadian provinces.

• Set the speed limit to 30 km/h on all neighborhood streets in BC

• Increased fines for dangerous behavior, like opening a car door into a cyclist. The fine used to be $81, now it’s $368.

• Set speed limits for electric passenger transport.

In Vancouver, city officials said in an email they were not aware of an increase in problems between e-commerce trucks and other road users, “however, our crews have noticed an increase in grocery delivery drivers not using designated loading zones. ”

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In areas where commercial vehicles cannot pull up to the curb, motorists are encouraged to use loading areas in lanes. Persons with a commercial vehicle permit may stop for up to 30 minutes to load or unload in commercial loading zones and lanes. You can also stop in passenger zones for up to 30 minutes to load, but only until 12:00 p.m., and use free metered parking until 10:30 a.m., unless parking or stopping is prohibited.

“All drivers, whether in commercial vehicles or not, must obey no stopping and no parking signs and other exit rules at corners, fire hydrants, lane crossings and driveways,” the email said.

Vancouver employees issued 31,257 tickets to vehicles illegally stopped in loading zones, commercial streets or no-stopping zones in 2021. That compares to 26,600 through the end of August this year.

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