The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) says loading zones in the Melbourne CBD have significantly declined over the past two years, threatening Melbourne’s economic recovery from forced business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After 12 months of lost business and revenue, CBD businesses are finally getting back on their feet and servicing a steadily growing market of consumers as more people return to the city for work, yet we are hearing about deliveries having to be rescheduled or taking longer because there are fewer loading zones,” says VTA CEO Peter Anderson. “This is creating a dangerous environment where drivers are having to wait to make deliveries or drive around the city until a loading zone becomes available, which increases traffic congestion and associated delays for everyone.”
“The issue is being compounded every year with loading zones being reduced, forcing drivers to wait around longer to get a loading zone or park further away,” he says. “This means that they are having to cart freight on trolleys a further distance, risking an incident or injury to a pedestrian or driver.”
According to Peter, the nearly 40 kilometres of kerbside protected bike lanes built by the City of Melbourne and the State Government during COVID lockdowns is contributing to greater congestion and fewer loading zones to service shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
“Without any consultation with industry, bike lanes were built in Swanston Street, William Street, Bourke Street, Exhibition Street, Flinders Street, La Trobe Street and elsewhere in the city, with lanes and protection medians encroaching on loading zones and other parking and delivery infrastructure,” Peter says. “While we appreciate the need to protect cyclists, a consequence of these decisions has been a blowout in delivery times, which increases the number of trucks and delivery vehicles in the city.”
Peter says that more loading zones are required to support supply, safety, and economic recovery: “The City of Melbourne is responsible for designating and enforcing loading zones and if they really want to support business recovery it is essential that more zones – not less – be set aside for transport operators to service their customers safely, quickly and efficiently.”