Queen Street trial means it’s not as far to go for local cargo

People ordering vital supplies and services from cargo bike companies in Oxford during lockdown and beyond are to receive a boost.

Queen Street in the city centre, will be open for cargo cycles throughout the day from 18 May 2020 under a trial backed by the county and city council and Oxford-based cargo bike companies.

Local zero-carbon delivery service Pedal and Post are currently providing a delivery service for Covered Market traders while OxWash are helping to collect and launder NHS key worker clothing.

And while cargo cycle companies are helping to provide a resilient response to the challenges posed by COVID-19, they are also part of the solution to improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions.

Improving air quality

County Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said: “Cargo cycles are a traditional solution to the long-standing challenge of improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions.

“In Oxford we are seeing a lot of work being done to innovate and ensure that Oxford becomes well known for cleaning up the air and making the city centre a hub of innovation.

“We recognise that there are some concerns about the use of the street by bikes and so I emphasise that this is a concession to cargo bikes only and we will be monitoring this trial closely.”

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport, said: “This trial will allow cargo bikes to reach their destinations across the city more promptly, both during the lockdown and as we move towards the economy restarting again.

“Cargo bikes are increasingly being used across the city, and around the world, as an emission free method of making deliveries. We are currently seeing our usually noisy, fume-filled spaces open to pedestrians and cyclists during the lockdown, and this is a trend we wish to continue in the future. This trial will be one of many potential transport changes that we will be considering in the coming months as we look beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”

Why the trial has been proposed:

  • Cargo bike companies are supporting the response to COVID-19 by transporting goods and providing essential services such as laundry
  • Queen Street has been identified as an important route by cargo bike companies
  • 75% Nitrogen Oxide air pollution in Oxford comes from transport
  • 50 tonnes of CO2 is emitted by road traffic in Oxford every morning rush hour
  • 17% of Oxford’s carbon emissions comes from road transport

The current restrictions, which see general cycling on Queen Street banned between 10am and 6pm will remain in place. A cargo bike is defined as “a pedal cycle designed or adapted for the carriage of goods of any description and used for commercial purposes (excluding passengers) whether or not electrically assisted, or a trailer drawn thereby.”

Christopher Benton from Pedal and Post said: "We're thrilled that the council has opened this up as a trial, as Queen Street is set to be part of the zero emission zone it means we can help support businesses further in making the switch to zero for a sustainable future for Oxford. It will also support us with a west to east cycle route for new NHS deliveries we have coming up this year.

"We have an impeccable safety record coming up to eight years operating in Oxford now. Our team is employed and insured and each bike has license plates and branding that’s clearly visible which we've done voluntarily as a commercial operator to make sure our team is visible and part of the community. We're set to install state of the art cameras in the near future so we can monitor our couriers use of queen street also"

Kyle Grant from OxWash said: "The entire Oxwash team are behind the council's move to open up Queen Street to cargo bike logistics. Not only will this enable us to efficiently serve our customers on Bonn Square and in the Westgate Centre, but also to access key routes such as St Ebbes and New Inn Hall Streets.

"To safely integrate with pedestrians, each of our riders has gone through an extensive e-cargo bike training program with an emphasis on maintaining pedestrian and other road users safety."

When the trial starts, anyone can make comments on how they think it is working by writing to us. The information about the trial is on our website – the on-line consultation can be found online when the trial starts at https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/QueenStreetCargoBikeExperimental/consultationHome

The formal consultation period runs for six months after the scheme comes into effect, but any responses received after then will still be considered when coming to a decision

Towards the end of the trial period, any objections and other representations received will be reported to our Cabinet Member for Environment at a meeting open to the public and at which members of the public and any other interested parties can apply to speak. All respondents to the consultation will be advised of the date of this meeting.