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Developing Design Guidelines for Commercial Vehicle Envelopes on Urban Streets

Start Date: January 2017
Funding: Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (PacTrans)
Project Budget: $90,000
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Ed McCormack

Commercial vehicles using loading zones are not typically provided with an envelope, or a space allocation adjacent to the vehicle for loading and unloading activities. While completing loading and unloading activities, drivers are required to walk around the vehicle, extend ramps and handling equipment, and maneuver goods; these activities require space around the vehicle. The unique needs of a delivery truck are not acknowledged by or incorporated in current design practices.

Due to lack of a truck envelope, drivers of commercial vehicles are observed using pedestrian pathways and bicycling infrastructure for unloading activities and the transport of goods by hand. These actions put themselves, and other road users in direct conflict and potentially in harm’s way. The purpose of this research is to improve our understanding of the interactions between heavy vehicles and other users in an urban environment, in particular, in cases where commercial vehicle activity disrupts the activity of pedestrians and bicyclists. The research approach includes both the observation of current practice and evaluation of infrastructure and simulation of roadway user behavior. This information will support better roadway and load zone design guidelines, which will allow our urban street system to operate more efficiently, safely, and reliably for all users.