Creating a high-quality network for sustainable freight transport
A quality network should be regarded as a fundamental condition for efficient and sustainable regional distribution that balances requirements on safety, accessibility, traffic flow and liveability.
Implementing sustainable mobility
Prior to measure implementation, access for distribution vehicles in the city centre was organised via special distribution areas accessible throughout the day, with only two streets subject to time windows. Time access restrictions had been identified as a possible solution to combat air quality, noise and other problems related to goods distribution. However, a stakeholder meeting with transport companies in the Rotterdam region in 2000 reached the conclusion that limitations on freight traffic, such as access time windows, were not compatible with the needs of the companies and would not deliver the expected results but might in fact lead to more freight traffic. The regional authority requested an analysis of the situation so that measures could be made more compatible with the needs of the companies. It was also decided to design an integral regional policy for sustainable freight traffic.
Although the original concept was to design a policy plan on access time windows, in the course of the project the design was altered into a more integrated approach by designing a so-called quality network. The first step was a study of urban distribution in the centre of Rotterdam. Based on this study, which showed that accessibility to Rotterdam city centre was relatively good, the focus shifted from a project aimed at city distribution to the design of a policy for sustainable freight traffic focusing on major economic centres in the region. The emphasis was on creating a high-quality regional road network to provide access to regional industrial areas and shopping centres. By the end of 2003, the key stakeholders had identified the most important destinations and routes in the region, to form the basis of the Quality Network.
A major barrier to the project was non-acceptance by the freight sector and other stakeholders of the original measure, which had been designed before any structured discussions had taken place. The stakeholders had other, more urgent problems to solve (that is, the need for an integrated regional approach) before the city could start enforcing any type of access restrictions. The main effort was therefore put into discussion in order to find a common starting point and formulate objectives.