“The municipality must also set a good example”
Rotterdam’s plans to extend the low emissions zone are ambitious. How does the municipality gain enough support from residents, businesses and small start-ups to begin seriously tackling the poor air quality?
“We shouldn’t be advising people not to go outside, but we need to let them see the solutions and their opportunities and advantages, such as those offered by electric vehicles.” FREVUE has its part to play here, as detailed below.
“Using electric heavy goods vehicles and delivery vans is the first step of the solution,” says Jos Streng, sustainable mobility advisor and transport planner for the Traffic and Transport department of the municipality of Rotterdam. “In addition, you also have to look at making the logistical aspects more sustainable. When a company switches over to electric transport, this also requires a (sometimes drastically) different style of management. You will only get sufficient returns in the case of optimum use, for example efficient journey planning in terms of the vehicles’ radius of activity, and if the delivery addresses in the city can be easily reached. The municipality can help with this latter point by giving electric vehicles special privileges, such as those recently introduced in Amsterdam.”
The air quality in Rotterdam is relatively bad, and its citizens deserve better. Streng: “It continues to be a challenge, however, to explain far-reaching measures such as the extension of the low emissions zone to the residents. People won’t stay indoors just because the figures might be above the European standard. ‘The negative effects on health are serious, but not everyone notices them. The smell and the noise at traffic lights and outside the window, and black sooty marks on your laundry, for example, are the things which everyone notices.’ The municipality is also setting a good example by introducing more electric commercial vehicles.” This is why demonstration projects like FREVUE are so important.
Streng also admires the example of Milan, a FREVUE partner city, where it is obligatory for pharmacists to distribute medicines by means of electric commercial vehicles: “The Italians have created a strong link to health.”
According to Streng, this phase of developing electric freight requires local municipalities in the Netherlands to cooperate with a number of other parties, including big cities, businesses, producers of large electric heavy goods vehicles, grid operators and electricity companies. It is only by joining forces that we will be able to deal with the remaining challenges. “The current switch to electric freight has grown organically. However, small businesses and self-employed people still tend to buy older commercial vehicles and keep them going for as long as possible. If you want to make a genuine switch, you also have to help businesses replace their vehicle fleet or find affordable alternative means of transport with ultra-low emissions. Therefore, it is important to consider the relevant funds.
FREVUE in 2015
In 2014, Amsterdam and Rotterdam already took significant steps with FREVUE towards cleaner urban air. These steps will take effect this year with the introduction of five new Heineken trucks in Amsterdam (three new 12-tonne vehicles) and two new 19-tonne vehicles in Rotterdam.
TNT will also be launching new vehicles in 2015 as part of the FREVUE project: five in Amsterdam and four in Rotterdam.
Reaching zero emissions via FREVUE
Rotterdam has set the bar high with its commitment to zero-emission distribution in the city centre. The municipality will now take the next step with companies such as UPS, TNT and Heineken which are participating in FREVUE. Other partners such as RoadRunner and Binnenstadservice have also signed up. The developments in this area will be discussed in the next newsletter on the basis of the recently concluded ‘Zero Emission 010’ Green Deal.