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New Urban Freight Developments and Land Use

Publication: Handbook on Transport and Land Use: A Holistic Approach in an Age of Rapid Technological Change
Volume: Chapter 22
Pages: 383-397
Publication Date: 2023

Urban freight denotes vehicle and commodity flows in an urban environment. These flows depend on a complex set of relationships among various stakeholders. In the last decades, urban freight has experienced an incredible pace of evolution, which has occurred due to various technological factors. One example is the ubiquity of internet access and the advance in information technology, leading to e-commerce adoption. Another is the development of algorithms to forecast demand, design and maintain supply chains and plan vehicle routes. In this chapter, we summarize critical changes in urban freight developments and land use. We highlight the interactions between passenger and freight travel, the recent shifts in freight flows and associated planning needs.

Authors: Dr. Giacomo Dalla Chiara, André Alho, Takanori Sakai
Recommended Citation:
Alho, André, Takanori Sakai, and Giacomo Dalla Chiara. "New urban freight developments and land use." Handbook on Transport and Land Use: A Holistic Approach in an Age of Rapid Technological Change (2023): 383.

Overview on Stakeholder Engagement

Publication: Handbook on City Logistics and Urban Freight
Publication Date: 2023

Until recently, urban transport authorities often overlooked freight, concentrating their attention on the movement of people. Even when motivated to tackle urban freight, many city authorities find it difficult to mobilize their own resources, and address the complex set of differing views of a large variety of stakeholders.

Historically, the role of city authorities, or local authorities within cities, has been confined largely to one of regulation as opposed to collaborative planning. Correspondingly, until recently there has been limited engagement of private companies in the local-authority transport-planning process.

Engaging stakeholders is very important as without their involvement it is very difficult to motivate changes in the urban freight and logistics system or design policies that might be mutually beneficial; successful implementation of effective urban logistics initiatives demands a solid understanding of both freight activity and the supply chains serving the urban area.

This chapter examines these issues and addresses how cities can more effectively engage with stakeholders. There is a strong need to identify obstacles, propose solutions and define implementation paths that consider the concerns of all stakeholders involved. This sounds rather straightforward but in practice there are many conflicts among and within public and private-interest groups and these often result in obstacles to success.

This chapter will address the range of complex issues involved and establish a framework for understanding the options related to stakeholder engagement to improve urban freight sustainability.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Michael Browne (University of Gothenburg)
Recommended Citation:
Michael Browne & Anne Goodchild, 2023. "Overview on stakeholder engagement," Chapter in: Edoardo Marcucci & Valerio Gatta & Michela Le Pira (ed.), Handbook on City Logistics and Urban Freight, chapter 15, pages 311-326, Edward Elgar Publishing.

UPS E-Bike Delivery Pilot Test in Seattle: Analysis of Public Benefits and Costs (Task Order 6)

The City of Seattle granted a permit to United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) in fall 2018 to pilot test a new e-bike parcel delivery system in the Pioneer Square/Belltown area for one year. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) commissioned the Urban Freight Lab (UFL) to quantify and document the public impacts of this multimodal delivery system change in the final 50 feet of supply chains, to provide data and evidence for development of future urban freight policies.

The UFL will conduct analyses into the following research questions:

  1. What are the total changes in VMT and emissions (PM and GHG) to all three affected cargo van routes due to the e-bike pilot test in the Pike Place Market and neighboring areas?
  2. What is the change in the delivery van’s dwell time, e.g. the amount of time the van is parked, before and after introducing the e-bike?
  3. How does the e-bike system affect UPS’ failed first delivery (FFD) attempt rate along the route?
  4. If UPS begins to stage drop boxes along the route for the e-bike (instead of having to replenish from the parked trailer) what are the impacts to total VMT and emissions?
  5. How do e-bike delivery operations impact pedestrian, other bike, and motor traffic?
Article, Special Issue

Urban Logistics: From Research to Implementation

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Publication: Research in Transportation Business & Management (RTBM)
Volume: 45 (A)
Publication Date: 2022

To address the accessibility and sustainability challenges of urban logistics it is important to consider urban logistics from a number of perspectives.

This includes considering:

  • spatial context i.e. not focusing solely on the urban center or core but also in terms of actions taken in broader logistics and supply chain management.
  • stakeholders i.e. including all key decision makers and constituents.
  • complexity and heterogeneity of activities (range of vehicles used, the products carried, location of distribution centers, and the variety found in city size, form, and governance).

This diversity of perspectives, and their influence on the urban freight system, makes it challenging to identify simple solutions to problems.

A number of forces are also at work impacting change in the urban logistics system. Technological innovation affecting urban logistics includes digitalization, e.g. the Internet of Things (important in terms of connected objects) and big data. These developments are already established and beginning to have an impact or at least implications in the field of urban logistics and freight transport. However, problems will not be solved by technology alone and it is essential to understand how behavior (at the individual and corporate level) influences outcomes and needs to change. Research needs to address interactions between stakeholders and the role of city authorities in promoting innovation and change.

Cities are complex environments and urban logistics has to adapt to these demands. The complexity of cities also gives rise to a debate about the extent to which problems (and their possible solutions) may be considered context-specific. This leads to questions relating to how initiatives should be scaled up to gain greater traction in dealing with challenges now and in the future. It is important to learn as much as possible from the high number of projects and new services that have been implemented in cities over the past ten years. These range from initiatives related to electric vehicles, through locker box systems and the role of the receiver in making change happen. How to learn and then apply the lessons from projects is an important question. In many cases it has been argued that the underlying business model has not been addressed successfully leading to the problem of projects lasting only as long as some form of project funding is available.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Michael Browne (University of Gothenburg)
Recommended Citation:
Michael Browne, Anne Goodchild. Urban Logistics: From Research to Implementation, Research in Transportation Business & Management, Volume 45 (A) 2022, 100913, ISSN 2210-5395,

Defining Urban Freight Microhubs: A Case Study Analysis

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Publication: Sustainability
Volume: 14 (1), 532
Publication Date: 2021

Urban freight distribution has confronted several challenges, including negative environmental, social, and economic impacts. Many city logistics initiatives that use the concept of Urban Consolidation Centers (UCCs) have failed.

The failure of many UCCs does not mean that the idea of additional terminals or microhubs should be rejected. There is limited knowledge about the advantages and disadvantages of using microhubs, requiring further exploration of this concept.

To expand this knowledge, this research combines 17 empirical cases from Europe and North America to develop a framework for classifying different microhubs typologies. This research presents an integrated view of the cases and develops a common language for understanding microhub typologies and definitions. The research proposes microhubs as an important opportunity to improve urban freight sustainability and efficiency and one possible step to manage the challenge of multi-sector collaboration.

Authors: Şeyma GüneşTravis FriedDr. Anne Goodchild, Konstantina Katsela (University of Gothenburg), Michael Browne (University of Gothenburg)
Recommended Citation:
Katsela, Konstantina, Şeyma Güneş, Travis Fried, Anne Goodchild, and Michael Browne. 2022. "Defining Urban Freight Microhubs: A Case Study Analysis" Sustainability 14, no. 1: 532.
Technical Report

Common MicroHub Research Project: Research Scan

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Publication Date: 2020

This research scan revealed a lack of an established and widely accepted definition for the concept of consolidation centers or microhubs. Many recent implementations of urban freight consolidation have focused on bundling goods close to the delivery point by creating logistical platforms in the heart of urban areas. These have shared a key purpose: to avoid freight vehicles traveling into urban centers with partial loads.

To establish definitions of micro-consolidation and its typologies, it is important to review previous efforts in the literature that have explained and evaluated urban consolidation centers and lessons that have led to the search for new alternatives. Starting in 1970s, the urban consolidation center (UCC) concept was implemented in several European cities and urban regions. These were mostly led by commercial enterprises with temporary or even structural support from the government to compensate for additional transshipment costs. Allen et. al. defined the UCC as a “logistic base located in the vicinity of the place of performing services (e.g., city centers, whole cities, or specific locations like shopping malls) where numerous enterprisers deliver goods destined for the serviced area from which consolidated deliveries as well as additional logistic and retailed services are realized”.

Many of these implementations failed to operate in the long term because of low throughput volumes, the inability to operate without financial support from government, and dissatisfaction with service levels. The cost of having an additional transshipment point often prevented the facilities from being cost-effective, and they could not operate when governmental subsidies were removed (4). From a commercial perspective, experiences with publicly operated UCCs were mostly negative, and centers that have operated since 2000 are often run single-handedly by major logistics operators.

Although it appears that many UCCs were not successful, that does not mean that the idea of an additional transshipment point should be sidelined completely (4). Several studies have mentioned the micro-consolidation concept as a transition from the classic UCC. Learning from previous experiences, Janjevic et. al. defined micro-consolidation centers as facilities that are located closer to the delivery area and have a more limited spatial range for delivery than classic UCCs. Similarly, Verlinde et. al., referred to micro-consolidation centers as “alternative” additional transshipment points that downscale the scope of the consolidation initiative further than a UCC.

In this project, a delivery microhub (or simply a microhub) was defined as a special case of UCC with closer proximity to the delivery point and serving a smaller range of service area. A microhub is a logistics facility where goods are bundled inside the urban area boundaries, that serves a limited spatial range, and that allows a mode shift to low-emission vehicles or soft transportation modes (e.g., walking or cargo bikes) for last-mile deliveries.

Recommended Citation:
Urban Freight Lab (2020). Common MicroHub Research Project: Research Scan.