This report presents research to improve the understanding of curb space and delivery needs in urban areas. Observations of delivery operations to determine vehicle type, loading actions, door locations, and accessories used were conducted. Once common practices had been identified, then simulated loading activities were measured to quantify different types of loading space requirements around commercial vehicles. This resulted in a robust measurement of the operating envelope required to reduce conflicts between truck loading and unloading activities with adjacent pedestrian, bicycle, and motor vehicle activities.
A bicycling simulator experiment examined bicycle and truck interactions in a variety of CVLZ designs. The experiment was completed by 50 participants. The bicycling simulator collected data regarding a participant’s velocity, lane position, and acceleration. Three independent variables were included in this experiment: pavement marking (No, Minimum, or Recommended CVLZ), Courier Position (none, behind vehicle, on driver’s side), and Accessory (none or hand truck). The results support the development of commercial loading zone design recommendations that will allow our urban street system to operate more efficiently, safely, and reliably for all users.
As urban populations and freight activities grow, there is continued pressure for multiple modes to share urban streets and compete for curb space. Cities are recognizing curb space as valuable public real estate that must be better understood and designed in order to improve the quality of life for residents and the transportation systems of cities.
Current commercial vehicle load zones are not well designed to accommodate safe, efficient, and reliable deliveries. Commercial vehicles using urban curbside loading zones are not typically provided with a consistent envelope, or a space allocation adjacent to the vehicle for deliveries. 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. But these unique space needs of delivery trucks are not commonly acknowledged by or incorporated in current urban design practices. Due to this lack of a truck envelope, drivers of commercial vehicles are observed using pedestrian pathways and bicycling infrastructure for unloading activities as well as walking in traffic lanes. These actions put themselves, and other road users in direct conflict and potentially in harm’s way.
This project improves our understanding of curb space requirements and delivery needs in urban areas. The research approach involved the observation of delivery activities operations to measure the envelope required for different vehicle types, loading actions, door locations, and accessories. Once the envelope was determined the (simulator was used).
Common loading and unloading practices and where freight activities occurred in relationship to trucks (sides, back, or front) were initially identified by observing twenty-five curbside deliveries in urban Seattle. The research team next collaborated with three delivery companies with active operations in urban areas. These companies proved access to their facilities, nine different urban delivery vehicles, and a variety of loading accessories. The research team initially recorded the commercial vehicle’s closed vehicle footprint without any possible extensions engaged. Next the open vehicle footprint was measured when all vehicle parts such as doors, lift gates, and ramps were extended for delivery operations. Finally, the active vehicle footprint was recorded as the companies’ drivers simulated deliveries which allowed the research team to observe and precisely measure driver and accessory paths around the vehicle.
This process resulted in robust measurements, tailored to different types of truck configurations, loading equipment and accessories, of the operating envelope around a commercial vehicle. These measurements, added to the foot print of a user-selected delivery truck sizes, provides the envelope needed to reduce conflicts between truck loading and unloading activities and adjacent pedestrian, bicycle, and motor vehicle activities.
A bicycling simulator experiment examined bicycle and truck interactions in a variety of CVLZ designs. The experiment was successfully completed by 50 participants. The bicycling simulator collected data regarding a participant’s velocity, lane position, and acceleration.
Three independent variables were included in this experiment: pavement marking (No, Minimum, or Recommended CVLZ), Courier Position (none, behind vehicle, on driver’s side), and Accessory (none or hand truck). Several summary observations resulted from the bicycling simulator experiment:
- A bicyclist passing by no loading zone (truck is obstructing bike lane) or minimum loading zone (truck next to the bike lane without a buffer) had a significantly lower speed than a bicyclist passing a preferred loading zone (truck has an extra buffer). A smaller loading zone had a ix decreasing effect on mean speed, with a courier exiting on the driver side of the truck causing the lowest mean speed.
- A courier on the driver’s side of the truck had an increasing effect on mean lateral position, with a no CVLZ causing the highest divergence from the right edge of the bike lane. Consequently, bicyclists shifted their position toward the left edge of bike lane and into the adjacent travel lane. Moreover, some bicyclists used the crosswalk to avoid the delivery truck and the travel lane.
- In the presence of a courier on the driver’s side of the truck, the minimum CVLZ tended to be the most disruptive for bicyclists since they tended to depart from the bike lane toward the adjacent vehicular travel lane.
- When the bicyclist approached a delivery vehicle parked in the bicycle lane, they had to choose between using the travel lane or the sidewalk. About one third of participants decided to use the sidewalk.
From our results, commercial loading zone best practice envelope recommendations can be developed that will allow our urban street system to operate more efficiently, safely, and reliably for all users