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Rollerbladers join fleet in bid to beat Games traffic

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Businesses are employing a range of innovative measures in an attempt to ensure minimal disruption during the Olympic Games.

Tactics include swapping four wheels for two, as well as bolstering existing fleet capacity with teams of runners and rollerbladers to make sure deliveries reach their destinations on time.

Over the past few months, CitySprint has been trialling a number of alternative methods of transport, including rollerbladers and runners, both of which will now be used for delivery during the Olympics.

Its four-strong Olympics contingency planning team is also increasing the motorbike and bicycle fleet, to 150 and 85 respectively, which will be supported by the team of five rollerbladers and 20 runners.

CitySprint’s CEO Patrick Gallagher told Fleet News that he believed incorporating a team of rollerbladers into its fleet was a UK first.

Together with its runners, they have been specially recruited for the Games and are all self-employed, but are being put through the company’s courier training programme, which includes training on hand-held GPS units – CityTrakkers – road safety and local area knowledge.

And, if successful, they could become a permanent feature on CitySprint’s fleet. “After the Games we will evaluate their performance and compare it to other parts of our fleet,” said Gallagher.

Courier assistants will also be used in vans to access addresses affected by road closures and parking restrictions and there will also be the option for customers to collect items from CitySprint service centres with extended opening times.

In addition, daily traffic email alerts will be sent to all customers indicating any road closures and to identify any traffic hotspots, as well as daily briefings for all CitySprint operations and control teams.

Gallagher said: “It is vital that our clients’ distribution needs keep functioning as near to normal as they can during the Olympic period.

“We have spent months preparing for the Games, which has included making a substantial investment in market-leading routing technology as well as testing different scenarios and methods of transport.

“We also spoke to distribution companies affected by previous Olympics in Sydney and are now confident we have prepared everything we can to minimise disruption to deliveries and collections over the summer.”

DHL Express will be hiring more than 100 new employees to help make sure deliveries to businesses across London aren’t disrupted.

Phil Couchman, CEO, DHL Express UK, said: “Our customers expect their critical deliveries to arrive on time regardless of what’s happening in London.

“The introduction of more than 100 extra employees to the DHL fleet, including running couriers, sub-contractors and full-time staff, will help ensure continuity for London businesses.”

DHL’s fleet of running couriers are newly appointed through a partnership with distribution company JogPost.

Being able to easily manoeuvre through the city on foot, by public transport or by supporting DHL drivers by springing into action once they hit traffic, the running team will ensure deliveries continue despite the congestion.

Drivers and running couriers will be co-ordinated via DHL’s dedicated operations control centre, designed to make sure staff have up-to-the-minute traffic information allowing them to re-route as and when congestion occurs.

Control room staff will work around the clock, utilising live feeds from social media channels, the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London (TfL) and local authorities, as well as TV, radio, GPS and internet feeds to ensure business deliveries in London run smoothly.

According to a survey conducted by TfL and London 2012, of 1,000 businesses that make deliveries in London, more than three-quarters (77%) are prepared for the 2012 Games.

However, only around one in five (19%) has considered using alternative routes to avoid congestion hotspots, and even fewer (18%) have considered re-timing deliveries to be overnight.

With less than three weeks to go before the Olympic Route Network (ORN) comes into operation on July 25, all businesses including van drivers are being urged to use TfL’s Freight Journey Planner to plan routes through affected areas.

The Freight Journey Planner has been designed to help delivery and servicing companies of all sizes plan their routes around London during the Games, based on the date and time of day, and size of their vehicle. It will help businesses identify where they are permitted to load/unload and park as well as estimating a time of arrival for each route based on traffic information.

Ben Plowden, director of planning at TfL Surface Transport, said: “During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, London will become a massive sporting and cultural venue so we don’t want people to get caught out.

“Roads in central London, around the Olympic Route Network, road events and venues will be exceptionally busy.

“All companies and tradespeople, including van drivers, should plan ahead to avoid the busiest times and places wherever possible, and allow more time for their journeys to be made.”

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