Weaning ourselves off home delivery is doomed to failure - Susan Dalgety
I enjoy his “best seat on the bus” post on social media, where he captures the city’s beauty from the upstairs front seat of a number 11 bus.
Even his sometimes pompous posts about the glories of cycling make me smile. I haven’t mounted a bicycle since I was 12 when I fell off my sister’s bone-shaker into a bed of nettles.
But I appreciate his enthusiasm for bikes, even if I don’t quite see them as the transport panacea he does. Have you tried loading a weekly food shop for a family of four onto the back of a bike?
There is no doubt he is genuine in his attempt to make the capital’s transport system more sustainable, but sometimes he reveals a naïve understanding of the realities of modern living.
Take his latest pronouncement at a Transport Smart Class event, where he said that “we need to wean ourselves off free next-day delivery,” and went on to complain about empty cardboard boxes cluttering up recycling bins, van drivers, and the general impact of online shopping on the environment.
Let’s examine his argument.
First, next-day delivery is not free, or at least not with any of the online retailers I use, and definitely not with Amazon, the company the councillor clearly had in his sights when he made his remarks.
To qualify for “free” next-day delivery you need an Amazon Prime account which costs £8.99 a month.
As for cardboard boxes clogging up collection points, surely Councillor Arthur wants us to recycle our packaging.
Where else are we supposed to put it but in the designated receptacles.
And can we spare a thought for the city’s van drivers, whether they are delivery drivers dropping off parcels or trades people carrying out essential building work?
Edinburgh is a terrible city for van drivers. There are no parking spaces in the centre, forcing them on to the pavement when they need to stop.
I know of small construction firms who spend a fortune on parking tickets for the privilege of fitting a new bathroom in a tenement flat. It is all very well complaining about “white van men” but who else will you call when you need drains unblocked or new, environmentally friendly, windows fitted?
Online giants like Amazon are making efforts to reduce their environmental impact. They are increasing their use of cargo bikes and collection points.
Shoppers are encouraged to choose their Amazon delivery day, so that all their purchases come at the same time. But the reality of modern life is that home deliveries are now the norm.
Generation Z think nothing of getting a breakfast burger delivered, while older folk and busy parents depend on regular supermarket deliveries.
And increasingly customers are demanding same day drop-offs, and not just for their Chinese takeaway.
Sorry Councillor Arthur, asking people to “wean” themselves off what is now normal behaviour is the equivalent of King Canute trying to hold back the tide. Makes a great headline, but it’s doomed to failure.