Since our launch in October 2016, the Urban Freight Lab has successfully completed an innovative suite of research projects. This body of work provides foundational data and innovative approaches, and underscores our commitment to empirical research, comprehensive understanding, data-driven insights and decision-making, and novel solutions to complex problems in urban freight management.
Highlights of our research program include:
- Established the Final 50 Feet Concept: The Urban Freight Lab was the first to introduce and establish the concept of the “Final 50 Feet”, signifying an intersection where urban planning, goods delivery logistics, and sustainability converge. The Final 50 Feet is defined as the final segment of the supply chain, spanning from the moment a truck parks to when the customer takes receipt of their goods.
- Completed Foundational Research on the Final 50 Feet: We completed comprehensive research into the under-researched Final 50 Feet of the goods delivery system, a pivotal area in improving urban delivery efficiency. Our research delves into unlocking insights that can drive improvements in urban logistics.
- Piloted a Zero-Emissions Last-Mile Microhub: As one of the nation’s first zero-emissions last-mile delivery pilots, the Seattle Neighborhood Delivery Hub served as a testbed for innovative sustainable urban logistics strategies on the ground in Seattle’s dense Uptown neighborhood. Key findings of the pilot show that, on the whole, neighborhood delivery hubs can enable more efficient and more environmentally sustainable urban last-mile delivery when compared to traditional delivery trucks, particularly cargo vans.
- Quantified Urban Freight Infrastructure and Freight Traffic Patterns: We developed new methodologies for quantifying urban freight infrastructure, providing valuable insights into the physical components of the urban logistics system. Our research encompasses a comprehensive review of urban freight infrastructure, including public and private loading bays, loading areas for commercial vehicles, and alleys. It provided detailed data regarding design, capacity, features, and use. In addition, this research has yielded new insights into traffic patterns by measuring freight vehicle volumes entering and exiting Greater Downtown Seattle and introduced new approaches, and measured vehicle volume entering and exiting Seattle’s Greater Downtown. These findings are important for understanding traffic dynamics and informing urban planning strategies.
- Tested Efficiency of New Urban Freight Technologies: Our research initiatives have focused on evaluating new technologies like locker systems across a diverse array of scenarios — ranging from office towers to residential apartment buildings and microhubs to cargo bikes. Our primary objective is to gain a comprehensive understanding of how these solutions operate in real-world settings and start to quantify through discrete measurements and metrics the impacts of these technologies on the urban freight landscape.
- Explored Future Trends in Urban Freight: We spent a full year deep-diving into four that our members selected for further exploration: electrification, digital transformation, planning streets for people and goods, and microfreight. Our comprehensive research was highlighted in a dedicated blog, Goods Movement 2030, where we discuss our learnings and provide insights into the evolving landscape of urban freight in the years ahead.
- Hosted an Annual Tech Day Pitch Competition for Startups: The Urban Freight Lab’s Tech Day pitch competition served as a model for our members and public sector partners to evaluate the feasibility of pre-market technologies to meet both business objectives and city goals. It also provided a platform for startups at any stage to present their high growth potential products, gain exposure, and receive invaluable feedback from industry representatives and venture capitalists who specialize in logistics and goods delivery.