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NYC Zero-Emission Freight and Green Loading Zone Market Research

(This project is being conducted under the Urban Freight Lab’s (UFL) Technical Assistance Program, where UFL contributes to the project by providing 1:1 match funds in terms of staff and/or research assistants to complete project tasks.)

This project is focused on conducting targeted freight industry market research to identify strategies that can support charting a pathway to zero-emission freight strategies for New York City by 2050 and identify the associated roadblocks/barriers to entry.

Partner Organization: New York City Department of Transportation

Project Goals:

  • Understand the interests and concerns of freight industry and private sector stakeholders to enable collaboration and inform the development of NYC DOT’s Green Loading Zone pilot
  • Actively engage NYC freight stakeholders to identify the greatest likelihood of accelerating the uptake and greater efficiency for zero-emission trucks.
  • Improve NYC DOT’s understanding of the obstacles and roadblocks that impact progress towards achieving zero emissions urban freight in NYC.

Summary of Project Tasks:

Task 1: Research Scan

Review national and international best practices on zero-emission urban freight, and identify new and existing strategies that support achieving zero-emission freight in NYC, with a particular focus on loading zone and curb management.

Task 2: Market Research Survey Design

Develop a short survey for stakeholders (freight industry, consumer brands and parcel carriers, etc. serving NYC area) to better understand the potential scale, siting, and contextual implementation of the Green Load Zone (GLZ) pilot. The survey will collect data on:

  • current trends and future estimations about the use of “green” vehicle fleet
  • barriers and opportunities with prevailing market conditions
  • key drivers and constraints for stakeholders
  • needs, motivation and role of each stakeholder involved

Task 3: Freight Industry Market Research and Stakeholder Engagement

Distribute the survey, and summarize and synthesize survey findings. Findings will help NYCDOT:

  • understand the interests and concerns of freight industry and other private stakeholders around the use of GLZs
  • identify potential GLZ users and accelerate the uptake of it
  • make informed decisions about implementation of the GLZ pilot
  • chart a pathway to achieving zero-emission freight in NYC

Task 4: Final Report

Provide a final report to NYCDOT.


Roadblocks to Sustainable Urban Freight

Publication: 9th International Urban Freight Conference, Long Beach, May 2022
Publication Date: 2022

While several stakeholders in the private and public sectors are taking actions and drafting roadmaps to achieve sustainable urban freight goals, the urban freight ecosystem is a complex network of stakeholders, achieving such sustainability goals requires the collaboration and coordination between multiple agents. Researchers collected and synthesized views from both the private and public sectors on what is needed to sustainably deliver the last mile and identify roadblocks towards this goal.

Recommended Citation:
Thomas Maxner, Giacomo Dalla Chiara, Anne Goodchild (2022). Roadblocks to Sustainable Freight. 9th International Urban Freight Conference (INUF), Long Beach, CA May 2022. 
Student Thesis and Dissertations

Micro-Consolidation Practices in Urban Delivery Systems: Comparative Evaluation of Last Mile Deliveries Using e-Cargo Bikes and Microhubs

Download PDF  (1.79 MB)
Publication Date: 2021

The demand for home deliveries has seen a drastic increase, especially in cities, putting urban freight systems under pressure. As more people move to urban areas and change consumer behaviors to shop online, busy delivery operations cause externalities such as congestion and air pollution.

Micro-consolidation implementations and their possible pairing with soft transportation modes offer practical, economic, environmental, and cultural benefits. Early implementations of micro-consolidation practices were tested but cities need to understand their implications in terms of efficiency and sustainability.

This study includes a research scan and proposes a typology of micro-consolidation practices. It focuses on assessing the performance of microhubs that act as additional transshipment points where the packages are transported by trucks and transferred onto e-bikes to complete the last mile.

The purpose of the study is to assess the performance of delivery operations using a network of microhubs with cargo logistics and identify the conditions under which these solutions can be successfully implemented to improve urban freight efficiencies and reduce emissions. The performance is evaluated in terms of vehicle miles traveled, tailpipe CO2 emissions, and average operating cost per package using simulation tools. Three different delivery scenarios were tested that represents 1) the baseline scenario, where only vans and cars make deliveries; 2) the mixed scenario, where in addition to vans and cars, a portion of packages are delivered by e-bikes; and 3) the e-bike only scenario, where all package demand is satisfied using microhubs and e-bikes.

The results showed that e-bike delivery operations perform the best in service areas with high customer density. At the highest customer demand level, e-bikes traveled 7.7% less to deliver a package and emitted 91% less tailpipe CO2 with no significant cost benefits or losses when compared with the baseline scenario where only traditional delivery vehicles were used. Cargo logistics, when implemented in areas where the demand is densified, can reduce emissions and congestion without significant cost implications.

Authors: Şeyma Güneş
Recommended Citation:
Gunes, S. (2021). Micro-Consolidation Practices in Urban Delivery Systems: Comparative Evaluation of Last Mile Deliveries Using e-Cargo Bikes and Microhubs, University of Washington Master's Thesis.

Identifying the Challenges to Sustainable Urban Last-Mile Deliveries: Perspectives from Public and Private Stakeholders

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Publication: Sustainability
Volume: 14, 4701
Publication Date: 2022

While freight transportation is a necessary activity to sustain cities’ social and economic life—enabling the movement and deployment of goods and services in urbanized areas—it also accounts for a significant portion of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The urban freight ecosystem is a complex network of agents, both public and private. Reducing CO2 emissions from urban freight requires the collaboration and coordination between those agents, but the motivations behind their goals, strategies for achieving those goals, and the challenges faced by each agent may differ. In this paper, we document the strategies aimed at reducing CO2 emissions considered by cities and private companies with the goal of understanding the challenges to progress faced by each. To accomplish this, we interviewed officials from purposefully sampled city departments in North America and private companies involved in city logistics. We found that cities face challenges related to a lack of strong leadership, resources, and policy tools. Companies must consider technological challenges, costs, and their workforce before reducing emissions. Cities and companies are challenged by the disaggregated nature of the urban freight “system”—a system that is not organized at the municipal scale and that is driven by performance and customer expectations.

Recommended Citation:
Maxner, T.; Dalla Chiara, G.; Goodchild, A. Identifying the Challenges to Sustainable Urban Last-Mile Deliveries: Perspectives from Public and Private Stakeholders. Sustainability 2022, 14, 4701.

Mapping the Challenges to Sustainable Urban Freight

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Publication Date: 2022

Just as there has been a push for more climate-friendly passenger travel in recent years, that same push is building for freight travel. At the same time ecommerce is booming and goods delivery in cities is rising, sustainability has become a policy focus for city governments and a corporate priority for companies.

Why? Cities report being motivated to be responsive to residents, businesses, and the goals of elected leaders. Companies report being motivated by cost reduction, efficiency, branding and customer loyalty, and corporate responsibility.

For its part, Amazon in 2019 pledged to become a net-zero carbon business by 2040. In the wake of that pledge, Amazon financially supported this Urban Freight Lab research examining two key questions:

  1. What is the current state of sustainable urban freight planning in the United States?
  2. What are the challenges to achieving a sustainable urban freight system in the United States and Canada?

Because the research literature reveals that denser, more populous cities are the areas most impacted by climate change, we focused our analysis on the 58 cities representing the largest, densest, and fastest-growing cities in the U.S. found within the nation’s 25 largest, densest, and fastest-growing metro areas. Our population, growth, and density focus resulted in heavy concentration in California, Texas, and Florida and light representation in the Midwest.

Within those 58 cities, we reviewed 243 city planning documents related to transportation and conducted 25 interviews with public and private stakeholders. We intentionally sought out both the public and private sectors because actors in each are setting carbon-reduction goals and drafting plans and taking actions to address climate change in the urban freight space.

In our research, we found that:

  1. The overwhelming majority of cities currently have no plans to support sustainable urban freight. As of today, ten percent of the cities considered in this research have taken meaningful steps towards decarbonizing the sector.
  2. Supply chains are complex and the focus on urban supply chain sustainability is relatively new. This reality helps explain the myriad challenges to moving toward a sustainable urban freight system.
  3. For city governments, those challenges include a need to adapt existing tools and policy levers or create new ones, as well as a lack of resources and leadership to make an impact in the industry.
  4. For companies, those challenges include concerns about the time, cost, technology, and labor complexity such moves could require.

“Sustainability” can mean many things. In this research, we define sustainable urban freight as that which reduces carbon dioxide emissions, with their elimination—which we refer to as decarbonization—as the ultimate end goal. This definition represents just one environmental impact of urban freight and does not include, for example, noise pollution, NOx or SOx emissions, black carbon, or particulate matter.

We define urban freight as last-mile delivery within cities, including parcel deliveries made by companies like Amazon and UPS and wholesale deliveries made by companies like Costco and Pepsi. We do not include regional or drayage/port freight as those merely transit through cities and face distinct sustainability barriers.

Authors: Urban Freight Lab
Recommended Citation:
Urban Freight Lab (2022). Mapping the Challenges to Sustainable Urban Freight.