This blog post is a part of a series on urban logistics for cities.
21 August 2020
This blog post is a part of a series on urban logistics for cities.
21 August 2020
Why urban freight matters?
Freight transport forms the backbone of today’s global economy. Global freight demand is estimated to triple between 2015 and 2050 and the ability to move goods efficiently has become the lifeblood of economic development, particularly in cities that generate over 80 percent of global GDP and an estimated 75 percent of global emissions (ITF 2019). Freight transportation contributes to negative externalities impacting the urban quality of life, like traffic congestion, air, and noise pollution, and rising emissions amongst many. Nearly 40 percent of all transport emissions are from freight. In the ongoing COVID19 pandemic the trend of online shopping soared in all sectors including groceries and essential goods which has given an opportunity to restructure the last mile logistics keeping decarbonization at the core of it.
Cities across the world have been experimenting with different initiatives to improve the efficiency of last-mile deliveries and make it sustainable, but there is no “one for all” solution available. Cities differ in logistics needs and requirements due to specific local characteristics, population, area, geography, land-use, road networks, as well as demand and supply of goods. The objectives for sustainable urban freight transport development is to reduce air and noise pollution, traffic congestion, GHG emissions and improve road safety by doing necessary interventions, while also promoting the use of environmentally friendly transport modes, such as rail and water transport and renewable energy-based light road vehicles.
Cities from developed countries have implemented policies and measures to address the environmental impact of freight transportation for a decade. Among the implemented measures, some have yield positive outcomes which can serve as a positive example to other cities. Starting from good practices across Europe, this blog series aims to highlight approaches and interventions rolled out by cities from the Global South, whose cases are scarsely documented. Selected urban policies and interventions had an appreciable impact on the city’s social, economic, and/or environmental aspects, provided a cost-effective solution/approaches for the city, and can inspire replication in other cities.
Which are the most suitable good practice intervention areas?
Following a review of different projects focusing on good practices, successful interventions focus on these four major intervention areas, where local governments can be successful in planning urban freight:
B. Infrastructure based
D. Behavior and awareness based
These intervention areas, while distinct, often interact and they are interdependent and more impactful when used in synergy. When coordinated, the interventions can improve the freight flow in urban areas whilst improving the quality of urban life. For instance, Low emission zone (LEZ) is a policy-driven intervention but requires infrastructure setup; like signage, cameras, and monitoring facilities. It also requires technology to track vehicles abiding the policy and eventually it brings the behavioral change of shifting transport to cleaner alternatives. Most interventions, which impact positively the urban environment and life, to be successful they need strong cooperation between all the involved stakeholders, especially between local governments and private companies. Policy and infrastructure interventions strong lead form local governments, while technological and behaviour based interventions usually require considerable input from and cooperation of the private sector.
A. Policy-based interventions are usually the preferred tools for cities as they are usually easier to implement, report a higher degree of acceptability from stakeholders and the community and they are cost-effective. Policy tools need to be supported by an enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance. It entails the soft measure to regulate the urban freight transport and is focused particularly at the land-use, environmental and institutional dimensions of urban freight management. It includes the measure taken for traffic management by local authorities and regional or national level plans. Local, regional, and national governments are the main stakeholders along with the enforcement agencies at implementation levels. Examples of this category are; Low emission zones, Environmental zones, Green zones, Off-hour/ Night-time delivery, Loading/Unloading areas, Dedicated delivery routes, Urban Freight delivery Plans, Mobility Master Plan including freight, Inclusion of freight in urban plans, Size/Load access restriction, and incentives, Fleet renewal schemes.
B. Infrastructure based interventions entail the hard measures resulting in the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the freight operations. Local, regional, and national governments and private companies (shippers, retailers, transport operators) are the main stakeholders. For big projects, a financial institution can also be considered as a potential stakeholder. Initiatives involving infrastructure tend to have high cost and long term outcomes. Very often they are part of a master plan or mobility plans designed for the long term. Examples of this category are Nearby delivery areas, Urban consolidation centers (UCCs), Pick-up points/ Storage lockers.
C. Technological interventions are being used either to create new freight operation models or to innovate how carriers operate in existing models. Private companies, especially transport operators are the main stakeholder to implement such innovations. Local and national governments can promote the use of technology through constructive policies. California in the United States (US) announced a new rule which will require half of the trucks sold must be zero-emissions by 2035 and all of them by 2045. This landmark decision is followed by 15 more states in the US. Delhi in India has announced its new Electric Vehicle (EV) Policy to boost the adoption of EVs in the national capital region. The role of new technologies in the optimization of urban logistics can be very diverse. Intelligent Transport Services (ITS) can be exploited to allow freight vehicle drivers to opt for alternative routes in response to information received regarding urban road network conditions. Alternatively, new technologies can be applied and tested to promote the development and spread of low emission vehicles (LEVs) for “last mile” deliveries. The initiatives involving technology tend to have high cost and long term outcomes. Examples of this category are; Dynamic routing system, Environmental friendly delivery vehicles, Efficient combustion engines/ fuels, Intelligent traffic management/ Intelligent transport systems, drone deliveries.
D. Behavior and awareness based strategies build awareness and disseminate information leading to change in freight transportation decision making, values, and business practices. Information strategies are data-driven and involve the use of performance measures. It involves all stakeholders; local, regional and national governments, private companies (shippers, retailers, transport operators), and consumers/citizens. Behavior can be nudged through various awareness programs but not enforced. Examples of this category are; Eco-driving training, Stakeholder working group/ Freight Quality partnerships, Cross-docking, Green public procurement, Recognition and certification programs, Anti-idling, Modal shift, Green delivery.
Best Practices Factory for freight transport (BESTFACT), Best Urban Freight Solutions (BESTUFS) and Clean Last Mile Transport and Logistics management (C-LIEGE) and City VITAlity and Sustainability (CIVITAS)
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