The Urban Freight Lab and RFID device manufacturer Impinj are joining forces to create a conceptual framework aimed at assessing the repercussions of misloaded packages on Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and emissions. Misloaded packages (packages placed on an incorrect delivery vehicle) can cause drivers to deviate from their intended routes miles to rectify the error, increasing both VMT and emissions. This collaborative effort will analyze the consequences of such incidents in order to optimize delivery efficiency, minimize environmental impacts, and contribute to more efficient and environmentally sustainable urban freight practices.
Impinj, a leader in the manufacturing of radio frequency identification (RFID) devices, has developed a Misloaded Packages Carbon Calculator, a model that quantifies the environmental impact of misloaded packages. The Urban Freight Lab (UFL) is an internationally recognized laboratory with research experience in measuring behaviors and impacts of last-mile delivery systems.
The current project proposes a collaboration between Impinj and the UFL to:
- Explore the operational and sustainability impacts of misloaded packages across different industry segments and communicate findings through a blog post.
- Introduce a novel conceptual model framework based on the IMPINJ carbon calculator that could be implemented in a future project to estimate the marginal change in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and emissions from changes in the misload rate.
The UFL team will output the following deliverables:
- A presentation at the 2023 Impinj Executive Forum to introduce the Impinj-UFL collaboration and the model framework for the misload package carbon calculator
- A blog post reporting on the operational impact of misloaded packages across different industry sectors, and reflection on the sustainability implications of changing the misload rate (percent of misload packages experienced in a typical day)
- A conceptual model framework based on Impinj misload packages carbon calculator that take into account different behavioral responses to handle misload packages and different industry sectors
The UFL team will complete the following tasks:
- The UFL research team will meet with Impinj executives and visit the facilities to learn how RFID technology can be leveraged to reduce misload rates and draft a preliminary list of Impinj customers UFL can interview.
- The UFL will present at the 2023 Impinj Executive Forum.
- Through Impinj introduction, the UFL team will reach out and schedule at least four interviews with practitioners to document the operational, behavioral and sustainability impacts of misload packages. Interviews will be conducted to cover different sectors, including urban, suburban, and long-haul deliveries.
- The UFL will write a draft blog post documenting the results from the interviews, discuss the potential environmental impact of reducing misload rates across different industry sectors, proposed a conceptual model framework on how companies can estimate the marginal change in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and emissions from changes in the misload rate.
How can charging infrastructure spark urban freight electrification?
With billions of federal dollars to be invested in building out the country’s charging network, EVs (Electric Vehicles) will soon be getting more places to juice up than ever before. The colossal infrastructure undertaking is meant to keep up with surging EV demand, projected to make up a quarter of all new car sales by 2025. For instance, meeting Seattle’s target of putting 174,000 passenger EVs on the road by 2030 will require 2,900 public Level 2 chargers and 860 DC fast chargers. That number is over five times more than the total chargers installed since 2019.
But estimates for charging stations often overlook the diverse plug-in needs of large commercial semi-trucks, box trucks, service and construction vehicles as well as smaller delivery vans and even electric cargo bicycles. Ramping up commercial fleet electrification will likely require cities, businesses, developers, and utility providers to reshape charging strategies.
So when it came to this month’s member meeting, UFL researchers wanted to know: how can charging infrastructure spark urban freight electrification? This blog discusses what the team had to say.
"EVs Need Charging Infrastructure. Is Urban Freight Any Different? (Part I)" Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, August 13, 2022. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/charging-infrastructure-urban-freight
Is public charging a realistic option for urban freight?
In Part 1, we focused our discussion on electrifying urban freight on grid capacity and installing the correct charger for the job. In this post, we continue the discussion by exploring an avenue for charging infrastructure: publicly available chargers.
Asked about their plans for electrifying urban freight fleets during August’s meeting, Urban Freight Lab (UFL) members stated they would rely primarily on depot charging: Trucks and vans would charge overnight in private facilities. These members agreed that public charging (i.e., curbside charging) was not key to electrifying the last-mile delivery sector. Policy research groups seem to support this take on charging needs. The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) in 2021 estimated that more than 2 million depot-based chargers will be needed in the U.S. by 2050 to meet charging demand. When it comes to public chargers, they estimate that need will be fewer than 300,000. That same year, Atlas Public Policy estimated that 75-90% of freight-related charging will occur at depots.
Both reports suggest, however, that investment is still needed in public charging infrastructure. Why? Because more than 90% of trucking companies in the U.S. are owner-operators or small fleets of 6 trucks or fewer. These small companies represent only 18-20% of trucks on the road, but they may lack the financial resources to install a truck or van charger and/or access to depot-based overnight charging.
With that in mind we address the question: Is public charging a realistic option for urban freight?
"EVs Need Charging Infrastructure. Is Urban Freight Any Different? (Part II)" Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, December 10, 2022. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/charging-infrastructure-urban-freight-p2
“Why deliver two-pound burritos in two-ton cars?”
That’s the question posed by sidewalk delivery robot company Serve, which is delivering food in places like Los Angeles. Sure, using something other than a car for items like a burrito makes sense. But what about a sofa? Urban delivery is all about right-sizing, context, and connecting logically and efficiently to the broader delivery network.
At the Urban Freight Lab (UFL), we talk about things like sidewalk delivery robots and e-bikes as microfreight. Microfreight is about moving goods using smaller, more sustainable modes where possible. Think micromobility, but for moving goods, not people, in the last mile of delivery.
Microfreight was one of the four topics UFL members voted to explore as part of the Urban Freight in 2030 Project. In the right city context, using microfreight can be both economical for freight businesses and more sustainable in terms of decarbonization and city dweller quality of life. We intentionally chose to hold the UFL spring meeting on microfreight in New York City, a city on the leading edge of the multimodal goods movement. The city’s perch on that leading edge makes sense, as the densest city in the U.S.; a city with sky-high delivery demand coming from people living in sky-high towers; and a city government working to proactively manage that reality. To be sure, NYC is one of a kind when it comes to dense, vertical living. Because of this density and intense interaction between modes, the Big Apple is an important place to watch — and a great place for us to share learning, expertise, and ideas.
And when we watched the Midtown Manhattan streets during that UFL meeting, we saw throngs of people on e-bikes and cargo bikes making food and ecommerce deliveries. But microfreight is about much more than just bikes. It includes personal delivery devices (PDDs) and drones. It even includes walking, an element that permeates nearly every last-mile delivery segment, especially the final 50 feet of a trip. Yet walking is something normally talked about for moving people, much less so for moving goods. To be sure, we saw plenty of deliveries being made on foot while in NYC, too!
Here’s a rundown of what we consider to be microfreight.
"What is Microfreight? Downsizing Delivery for a Multimodal and Sustainable Future." Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, June 19, 2023. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/microfreight-downsizing-delivery-for-a-multimodal-and-sustainable-future.
A year and a half ago, our members decided to dig into four topics for the Goods Movement 2030 project (Electrification, Digital Transformation, Planning Streets for People and Goods, and Microfreight). They all — public and private sector alike — saw these areas as transformative. And they identified six priorities around which we hope to see improved outcomes for 2030 (Reducing CO2 Emissions, Reducing Congestion, Reducing Roadway Fatalities, Increasing and Improving Protected Spaces for Vulnerable Users, Making Transparent the Cost of Delivery, and Improving Equity).
From myriad lively discussions, debates, and expert-led learning over the last 18 months, this much is clear: Each of the four topics we’ve explored together cries out for deep and broad collaboration between the public and private sectors if we’re going to move the needle on our consensus priorities.
And the good news? Our members have already shown that they’re willing and able to approach that needed collaboration with curious minds and radical transparency (not to mention their demonstrated commitment to innovating and having tough conversations.) All of this bodes well for both the present — and the future we’ve all been working to imagine and shape.
While all six priorities surfaced throughout this project, it’s decarbonization that came up in virtually every discussion on every topic. On equity, we had to grapple early on with what that even means in urban freight.
This blog presents a Cliffs Notes recap of big-picture project takeaways.
“Goods Movement 2030: What Have We Done and What Is Next?” Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, October 24, 2023. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/goods-movement-2030-so-what-have-we-done-here-and-whats-next.
The distribution of goods and services in North American cities has conventionally relied on diesel-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Recent developments in electromobility have provided an opportunity to reduce some of the negative externalities generated by urban logistics systems.
Cargo e-bikes — electric cycles specially designed for cargo transportation — represent an alternative environmentally friendly and safer mode for delivering goods and services in urban areas. However, lack of infrastructure, legal uncertainties, and a cultural and economic attachment to motorized vehicles has hindered their adoption. Cities play a crucial role in reducing these barriers and creating a leveled playing field where cargo e-bikes can be essential to urban logistics systems.
This paper aims to inform urban planners about what cargo e-bikes are, how they have been successfully deployed in North America to replace ICE vehicles, and identify actionable strategies cities can take to encourage their adoption while guaranteeing safety for all road users.
Gathering data and opinions from key public and private sector stakeholders and building on the expertise of the Urban Freight Lab, this paper identifies nine recommendations and 21 actions for urban planners across the following four main thematic areas:
- Infrastructure: cycling, parking infrastructure, and urban logistics hubs
- Policy and Regulation: e-bike law, safety regulation, and policies de-prioritizing vehicles
- Incentives: rebates and business subsidies
- Culture and Education: labor force training, educational programs, and community-driven adoption
The Urban Freight Lab acknowledges the following co-sponsors for financially supporting this research: Bosch eBike Systems, Fleet Cycles, Gazelle USA, Michelin North America, Inc., Net Zero Logistics, Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (PacTrans) Region 10, Seattle Department of Transportation, and Urban Arrow.
Technical contributions and guidance: Amazon, B-Line (Franklin Jones), Cascade Bicycle Club, Coaster Cycles, City of Boston, City of Portland, Downtown Seattle Business Association (Steve Walls), New York City Department of Transportation, People for Bikes (Ash Lovell), Portland Bureau of Transportation, University of Washington Mailing Services (Douglas Stevens), UPS,
Dalla Chiara, G., Verma, R., Rula, K., Goodchild, A. (2023). Biking the Goods: How North American Cities Can Prepare for and Promote Large-Scale Adoption of Cargo e-Bikes. Urban Freight Lab, University of Washington.
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.
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.
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.
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. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084701.