Thursday 31 July 2014

Boozy Floating Unloading

It turns out that the British Pub & Beer Association is concerned about protected cycle infrastructure because of the effects on HGV deliveries.

In its written evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee Cycling Safety Report 2014-15 it states (among other things);

Segregated cycle lanes already cause particular issues for pub deliveries. Manual handling of bulk beer containers such as kegs and casks (as specified in current Health & Safety Regulations) ideally requires the delivery vehicle to be sited at the kerb-side outside the premises. Physically segregated lanes prevent this access and in some circumstances, bulk containers must be wheeled across the cycle lane which poses a further risk to both cyclists and delivery drivers.
There are already significant restrictions imposed on delivery vehicles, including the enforcement of permitted delivery times (night time deliveries are not allowed), access routes and parking restrictions. Whereas it may be desirable to separate road users to protect those considered more vulnerable, further restrictions could seriously hinder the ability to deliver to pubs, particularly if this were to prevent deliveries during busy trading periods, i.e. lunchtimes. Imposing such restrictions could also lead to increased, inefficient journey times as all deliveries would be squeezed into a shorter time window. This in itself would lead to wider congestion issues.

First, thanks to Carlton Reid for posting the link on Twitter which got my brain working! Now, people delivering beer are not the only ones to have to shift heavy weights and I am not going to single out the BPBA. I am a beer fan and so I would hate to see the flow of the amber stuff stemmed, so what can be done?

At the time this popped up on Twitter, I posted a couple of sketches. First, we have a layout which is very similar to our (now) old friend the floating bus stop, which I referred to as a "floating loading bay" - remember where you read this term first!

Like the bus stop, the cycle track bends behind an "island" which can be used by the delivery driver to offload goods onto. In my sketch I have thoughtfully provided a reinforced pad onto which a beer barrel can be dropped (onto a portable cushion carried on the lorry. For a pub, this of course only works if the barrels can be rolled into the basement doors.

The thing that makes me smile is that the BPBA is worried about stuff being wheeled across a cycle track - well, with a floating loading bay, those delivering can pause and think before they roll. Presumably, the drivers check for pedestrians before rolling a barrel across the footway into gaping opening in the ground? Of course, everyone else uses a tail lift and delivery cages and of course a floating loading bay would work there too.

What if there is less space available? Well, where there is a narrow kerbed protection strip, the simple answer is a gap and a dropped kerb up onto the footway behind. In fact, there are various permutations of both which will do the job.

So, a physically-segregated cycle track does not prevent deliveries, it all goes back to good design and thought. There is of course the debate to be had about times of day for deliveries, size of vehicles and direct vision lorry cabs. However, in terms of the compatibility of deliveries and protected cycling, it is a red herring and can be designed for. Of course, a traffic lane may have been taken away to provide a cycle track and a loading bay might be an issue at peak times, but loading bays can operate at whatever times we decide.

King Street, Hammersmith. Image from Google Streetview.
I was going to leave it there, but last weekend, I was on a long training ride in a loop around London and lo and behold, I saw something very interesting on King Street, Hammersmith, where my second sketch had been built!

A funny location as the main road has been made one way with a protected contraflow cycle track. But, the principle is there and certainly deals with the problem. So, another excuse ticked off then!


  1. Why are full sized kerbs needed? Segregated cycle lanes mean fewer obstacles for people and goods.

  2. Of course, I have shown a couple of examples - a road without through traffic could still be accessed by pub lorries, but wouldn't need separate facilities: on CS3 in London

  3. Here's an example from Manchester where two busy premises have survived, despite their deliveries needing to cross a kerb-segregated contraflow cycle lane:
    I expect we'll need plenty of these examples to deal with the inevitable bikelash for our Oxford Road scheme - thanks for your useful posts!

  4. This design also works in pretty much the same way when a disabled parking space is provided.

  5. Alpine huts seem to manage to serve beer even when the nearest road is 5km away and 1km lower down. Crossing a cycle track is trivial in comparison.