By Alexander Whiteman 10/04/2018 UK cities are facing “considerable” challenges in air quality and congestion as a result of significant growth in van traffic, and a lack of data is preventing planners from addressing the problem.A new report from the Urban Transport Group (UTG) claimed the number of vans in the UK had increased by 74% to 3.8m since 1996.Managing director of transport for West Midlands at UTG Laura Shoaf said, in terms of growth, van traffic was outpacing all other vehicles on the country’s roads.“This presents considerable challenges for cities as they seek to reduce emissions and pollution, cut congestion and provide delivery access for vehicles whilst prioritising people,” said Ms Shoaf.“But there are still a great deal of unknowns surrounding this growth, including gaining a better understanding of how and why van traffic is growing.”In particular, she said it was important to not only identify who owns and manages the vehicles but also to understand what their journey purpose was.Doing so, Ms Shoaf continued, would allow policy makers to better grasp the issues and develop responses.Current common wisdom has it e-commerce was playing a key role in this surge in van figures, but UTG noted there was “little” up-to-date information on the contents inside vans themselves.“We cannot say for certain what the vans on our roads are carrying but research in London has found that the space inside vans is generally under-utilised, with an average van 38% full,” it added.“The largest proportion of vans are less than 25% full but understanding loads is difficult, as trades people may be operating vans full of equipment, with delivery drivers having few or many parcels.”In the last 20 years, vans have gone from representing 10% of urban traffic to 15% but with many operating under diesel engines the impact on air quality has been more pronounced.Vans generate 30% of nitrogen oxide emissions from road transport, 16% of CO2 emissions, 14% of airborne particulates, and 8% of carbon monoxide emissions.“96% of registered vans in 2016 are diesel-fuelled, while lower in CO2 and more fuel efficient than petrol, diesel produces higher NOx and particulate matter,” said the report.“These emissions are particularly problematic when vehicles pass through densely populated urban areas, as the risk of people being exposed to harmful pollutants is higher.”This is being exacerbated by increasing levels of congestion, which the report claimed is itself exacerbated in areas where deliveries coincide with peak traffic hours.Data from TomTom said congestion increased the average time vans spent on the roads by 129 hours annually, costing businesses £915m a year – with Birmingham, Manchester, and London worse hit.Click and collect locations were cited by UTG as one way of reducing the number of annual van journeys, and it suggested re-routing and retiming deliveries would help tackle the problem further.“There are opportunities for local and city region authorities to lead by example when it comes to vans,” said the report.“Leeds Council has converted many of its vans to run on compressed natural gas and purchased a number of electric vans and cars, reducing environmental impact of the council’s activities.“However, many questions are unanswered with unknowns surrounding van growth, so gaining a better understanding would allow policy makers to better grasp the issues and develop responses,” it said. © Yongnian Gui |
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory McIlroy may have discovered the reason why he doesn’t yet have a green jacket, why he remains one leg shy of the career Grand Slam, why each year he leaves Augusta National – a course that so perfectly suits his game – scratching his head. Because he needs to relax. That’s not a word often associated with the Masters, but McIlroy sounded Tuesday like a man who is still trying to strike a balance between being prepared and being loose for his shot at history. And so he is shaking things up this year at the Masters. Just about everything, it seems. He switched to a cross-handed putting grip last month. He didn’t make a single scouting trip to Augusta in advance of the tournament. He is using only one ball in practice rounds, instead of hitting multiple shots from the tee boxes, fairways and closely mown areas around the green. Heck, he is even skipping the Par-3 Contest, out of superstition. “I really feel like I play my best golf when I’m more relaxed, when I’m having fun out there and I’m not overdoing it or not overthinking it,” McIlroy said. “It’s a very special event, and obviously it’s different in its own way, but I don’t want to treat it any differently.” But it’s not that simple. The Masters will always be the event on his calendar that is circled – it’s the only piece remaining for him to become just the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam. McIlroy’s wholesale changes are the product of what transpired last spring, when he arrived at Augusta with so much hype and hoopla following his banner year in 2014. Sure, he finished fourth last year, his best result in seven tries, but he got lapped by Jordan Spieth after going 3 over for his first 27 holes. Masters Tournament: Articles, photos and videos “I think part of that,” McIlroy said, “was having so much expectation and thinking of the Grand Slam and thinking of the Masters and thinking of all this where I needed to just take a step back and relax and go out and try and play my own game.” That part creates pressure, too. He possesses an explosive game that many expect will produce multiple Masters victories. He can hit the ball high. He can land the ball softly. He has a good touch around the greens. “He can emasculate a golf course,” Tom Watson said. “You would think this was a golf course that I can definitely win on,” McIlroy said. “I know that. I just haven’t quite been able to get myself over the hurdle. “Am I surprised that this is the last one left? Probably, yeah.” So why hasn’t it happened? The danger at the Masters, more so than any other tournament, is to over-prepare, to try every possible shot, lie and angle, to line up practice rounds with veterans and to ask too many questions. McIlroy played too tentatively his first few years, his focus more on where to avoid than where to aim. The information overload also conflicted with his carefree attitude on the course when he’s in top form. Phil Mickelson, who didn’t break through at Augusta until his 12th attempt, said the temptation for players is to focus too much on the course and not enough on their own game. “It’s much better to be ready with your game,” Mickelson said, “because you’ve got to execute no matter how well you know the golf course.” Which is why to play his best, McIlroy says it’s imperative that he backs off, that he doesn’t overthink, that he doesn’t try too hard. After heading to Augusta early each year to reacquaint himself with the course, he didn’t play his first round here this year until Monday, when he set up a match with Chris Wood. On Tuesday, he played a game with Andy Sullivan, Jamie Donaldson and Bernd Wiesberger, and he used only one ball, even if it meant hitting out of pine straw or a fairway bunker. “I’m just trying to play it more like it is a tournament round,” he said. With so much pressure to complete the Slam, it would seem that McIlroy’s appearance at the Par-3 Contest would be a welcome reprieve, a chance to have a few laughs and fun before the most famous golf tournament on the most stressful course in the world commences. But McIlroy has switched up his routine for that, too, saying that he wanted to “get away from the spotlight a little bit.” That’s understandable, of course, but McIlroy also has the last tee time Thursday (2:01 p.m. ET). He’ll have to wait 24 hours after his last practice round to tee it up in the tournament proper, which is plenty of time to, well, sit around and think about the Slam and the Masters and that elusive green jacket. “I feel like I’ve got everything I need to become a Masters champion,” he said, “but I think each and every year that passes that I don’t, it will become increasingly more difficult.” Especially if he makes all of these changes and winds up with the same disappointing outcome.