Urban Freight Lab’s foundational report is the first assessment in any American city of the privately-owned and operated elements of the Final 50 Feet of goods delivery supply chains (the end of the supply chain, where delivery drivers must locate both parking and end customers). These include curb parking spaces, private truck freight bays and loading docks, street design, traffic control, and delivery policies and operations within buildings.
Goods delivery is an essential but little-noticed activity in urban areas. For the last 40 years, deliveries have been mostly performed by a private sector shipping industry that operates within general city traffic conditions. However, in recent years e-commerce has created a rapid increase in deliveries, which implies an explosion of activity in the future.
Meeting current and future demand is creating unprecedented challenges for shippers to meet both increased volumes and increasing customer expectations for efficient and timely delivery. Anecdotal evidence suggests that increasing demand is overwhelming goods delivery infrastructure and operations. Delivery vehicles parked in travel lanes, unloading taking place on crowded sidewalks, and commercial truck noise during late night and early morning hours are familiar stories in urban areas.
These conditions are noticeable throughout the City of Seattle as our population and employment rapidly increase. However, goods delivery issues are particularly problematic in Seattle’s high-density areas of Downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union, Pioneer Square, First Hill, Capitol Hill and Queen Anne, described as Seattle’s “Center City”. Urban goods transportation makes our economy and quality of life possible.
As the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) responds to the many travel challenges of a complex urban environment, we recognize that goods delivery needs to be better understood and supported to retain the vitality and livability of our busiest neighborhoods.
U.S. cities do not have much information about the urban goods delivery system. While public agencies have data on city streets, public transportation and designated curbside parking, the “final 50 feet” in goods delivery also utilizes private vehicles, private loading facilities, and privately-owned and operated buildings outside the traditional realm of urban planning.
Bridging the information gap between the public and private sectors requires a new way of thinking about urban systems. Specifically, it requires trusted data sharing between public and private partners, and a data-driven approach to asking and answering the right questions, to successfully meet modern urban goods delivery needs.
The Urban Freight Lab (UFL) provides a standing forum to solve a range of short-term as well as long-term strategic urban goods problem solving, that provides evidence of effectiveness before strategies are widely implemented in the City.
Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center. (2018) The Final 50 Feet of the Urban Goods Delivery System.