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Freight’s Role in Delivering Equitable Cities (Part I)

Publication: Goods Movement 2030: An Urban Freight Blog
Publication Date: 2022
Summary:

What does an equitable and just freight system actually look like?

We asked UFL members this question at the summer 2022 quarterly meeting. Their responses, shown in the graphic below, cover a wide range of ideas and topics. Some define equity in terms of equal access to the numerous benefits a freight system brings; others call for a reduction in freight costs — like pollution, noise, and traffic — to historically marginalized people.

Members differ on who the appropriate stakeholders are when it comes to addressing equity in urban freight. Is it the public agencies and big companies currently driving zero-carbon transitions? The warehouse workers, owner-operators and migrant truck drivers? The customers who shop online? Or the families who live near warehouses and truck routes?

Addressing these challenges is no simple task. Such questions challenge the urban freight community to grapple with the implications of histories of injustices that remain visible in today’s freight networks. And it also challenges us to look beyond the purview of planners and policymakers and assess the active role logistics companies play in delivering equity. In fact, evidence suggests the C-suite does think seriously about justice both within and beyond the context of the company. These understandings can be a foundation for a more equitable freight system and creating a truly equitable city.

Authors: Travis Fried
Recommended Citation:
"Freight’s Role in Delivering Equitable Cities (Part I)" Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, November 16, 2022. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/delivering-equitable-cities-p1
Blog

EVs Need Charging Infrastructure. Is Urban Freight Any Different? (Part I)

Publication: Goods Movement 2030: An Urban Freight Blog
Publication Date: 2022
Summary:

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.

Authors: Travis Fried
Recommended Citation:
"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
Blog

Urban Freight in 2030: What Will We Measure?

Publication: Goods Movement 2030: An Urban Freight Blog
Publication Date: 2022
Summary:

The meteoric rise in urban deliveries and the lingering societal effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are having dramatic implications for the future of business, climate, and cities.

Together with our collaborators and subject matter experts from across the logistics landscape, we are creating a collective vision for the urban freight system in 2030 and we are excited to present it in a new blog.

We have identified four topics surfacing in urban freight and six performance metrics around which we hope to see progress. Our topics for exploration are Electrification, Digital Transformation, Planning Streets for People and Goods, and Microfreight.

Complementing these, we have identified six priorities for progress by 2030: Reducing CO2 emissions, Reducing congestion, Reducing roadway fatalities, Increasing/improving protected spaces for vulnerable users, Making transparent the cost of delivery, and Improving equity.

Though not directly linked to our research topics, these metrics  serve as tangible measures to assess progress, or lack thereof, toward our collective vision of Urban Freight in 2030.

The Urban Freight Lab launched the Goods Movement 2030 Blog in 2022 to create a collective vision for the urban freight system in 2030. In this space, we are exploring emerging trends in last-mile delivery, asking big questions, and analyzing implications.

Recommended Citation:
"Urban Freight in 2030: What Will We Measure?" Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, August 1, 2022. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/what-will-we-measure
Blog

EVs Need Charging Infrastructure. Is Urban Freight Any Different? (Part II)

Publication: Goods Movement 2030: an Urban Freight Blog
Publication Date: 2022
Summary:

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?

Authors: Thomas Maxner
Recommended Citation:
"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
Blog

Freight’s Role in Delivering Equitable Cities (Part II)

Publication: Goods Movement 2030: An Urban Freight Blog
Publication Date: 2022
Summary:

Moving freight is vital to our ability to live in cities and access goods — but who bears the costs of moving goods, and who benefits from the access that goods movement provides? These costs and benefits have not been borne equally.

The last blog post revealed how urban freight is largely missing in discussions around transportation equity and accessibility. Freight delivers immense benefits to cities and residents. These benefits go beyond economic development, which is often how policymakers see freight. Not to say these economic benefits are small potatoes. Roughly 40 percent of Washington jobs connect to freight, generating $92 billion in economic impact annually.

So while the benefits of the urban freight system are foundational to cities, they go largely overlooked. The value of a freight system comes when you enjoy a good meal, receive essential medicines, or get lost in a favorite book. Put simply: Moving freight is vital to our ability to live in cities and access goods.

But who bears the costs of moving goods, and who benefits from the access that goods movement provides? These costs and benefits have not been borne equally.

Authors: Travis Fried
Recommended Citation:
"Freight’s Role in Delivering Equitable Cities (Part II)" Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, December 13, 2022. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/delivering-equitable-cities-p2
Blog

The Future of Delivery: Urban Freight in 2030

Publication: Goods Movement 2030: An Urban Freight Blog
Publication Date: 2023
Summary:

We have digitization to thank for today’s urban freight landscape. Digitization has long been the backbone of things we now take for granted — from TNCs (Transportation Network Companies) Uber and Lyft to online shopping and the complex supply chain needed to make that ecommerce happen. Digitization is what gives ecommerce’s biggest player — Amazon — visibility into its packages and enables it to deliver faster and more reliably than ever. So digitalization isn’t new. But it continues to spur new developments.

But what does digitization even mean in urban freight?

In this blog, we think about three buckets under the broad umbrella. Though all three can — and do — interconnect, the first two center on the public sector and the third on the private sector.

Recommended Citation:
"The Future of Delivery: Urban Freight in 2030" Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, January 27, 2023. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/the-future-of-delivery-urban-freight-in-2030.
Blog

How Can Digitization in the Private Sector Benefit Everyone?

Publication: Goods Movement 2030: An Urban Freight Blog
Publication Date: 2023
Summary:

We’ve dug into how digitization continues to spark new developments in the urban freight landscape across the private and public sectors alike — with cities lagging behind digitization veterans like Amazon.

As Urban Freight Lab members noted at the fall meeting, it’s understandable why the private sector is ahead. Digitization helps companies improve operations toward lowering costs, saving time and money, and keeping customers satisfied. In other words, digitization helps companies with their fundamental concern: The bottom line.

And yet, companies’ choices and behavior in using digital tools can have the effect of helping more than their bottom lines. Private sector digitization can have spillover benefits, winding up helping communities and society at large, too. (To be clear, when we talk here about societal benefits, that includes mitigating and/or reducing the negative impacts of delivering goods to our homes and businesses.) But too often we treat the private and public sectors as wholly separate and siloed systems — though clearly they’re not.

The efficiencies digitization supports in urban freight might well wind up contributing to quality of life in city neighborhoods and communities. Those efficiencies can impact everything from congestion and traffic flow to pollution and Co2 emissions that contribute to climate change.

In this blog, we map three digitization moves in the private sector that could generate benefits for the public.

Recommended Citation:
"How Can Digitization in the Private Sector Benefit Everyone?" Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, February 14, 2023. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/3-digitization-moves
Blog

How Could a More Integrated Private-Public World Advance Goods Movement?

Publication: Goods Movement 2030: An Urban Freight Blog
Publication Date: 2023
Summary:

Consider it the left-hand, right-hand challenge of the urban freight landscape. But a gentler riff on the whole “the left-hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” Each hand does know something about what the other hand is doing, but probably not enough.

On the left, there are Urban Freight Lab (UFL) member companies like Amazon and UPS that use the public right of way to move goods. On the right, various levels of government manage and regulate that public right of way for all users. The hands are connected. Yet each is independently engaged in digitization. If we’re serious about driving progress on the UFL’s six collective priorities by 2030, the left and the right hands need to be more synced.

This blog examines three digital ideas that could foster the private-public integration that we believe is needed to advance these priorities. Here’s a 2030 vision for that more integrated world — and how we might tap digitization to get there.

Recommended Citation:
"How Could a More Integrated Private-Public World Advance Our Goods Movement 2030 Priorities?" Goods Movement 2030 (blog) Urban Freight Lab, March 8, 2023. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/a-more-integrated-world
Blog

The Freight Space Race: Planning Streets for More Efficient & Sustainable Movement of People & Goods

Publication Date: 2023
Summary:

Space is the scarcest resource in cities. How can we best use street space to do more for more street users?

Mention the “space race” and it tends to conjure up the Cold War-era competition between the United States and the then-USSR to “conquer” outer space. But at the winter meeting of the Urban Freight Lab (UFL), members heard about a different race playing out on our streets right under our noses. It’s what Philippe Crist of the International Transportation Forum (ITF) dubs the freight space race.

That race is about managing the competing demands for space in cities. Users of the space are competing to retain and grow space for their needs to improve deliveries, urban function, and residents’ well-being. For urban freight advocates it’s about making deliveries in cities less disruptive and more sustainable by focusing on the street space use of freight activities. It’s a race involving freight carriers, freight receivers, governments, and communities.

The freight space race isn’t new. But it’s been amplified and made more visible in the wake of the intertwined ecommerce boom and the Covid-19 pandemic, as planners in many cities scrambled to create public spaces for people through things like street closures, parks, and pedestrian ways.

Meantime, by and large, considering city space for goods has been an afterthought. And when goods delivery is considered, it tends to be siloed from the work of planning streets for people. So, there’s a freight plan, maybe. (Our research into 58 of the largest, densest, and fastest-growing cities found most do not have freight plans.) A bike plan. A transit plan. A pedestrian plan. But there’s nothing that integrates everything at the street level across all users.

This siloing hasn’t served cities or the freight sector particularly well. The rise of the “complete streets” concept is a rejoinder of sorts. (And, notably, UFL member Seattle Department of Transportation for the first time plans to create a multimodal and integrated 20-year transportation plan, later this year.) Unsurprisingly, given the less-than-stellar siloed approach to planning, UFL members prioritized planning streets for people and goods as a key topic in the Goods Movement 2030 project.

Recommended Citation:
“The Freight Space Race: Planning Streets for More Efficient & Sustainable Movement of People & Goods” Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, April 4, 2023. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/freight-space-race.
Blog

Lost in Translation? Considering Overseas Freight Planning Designs through a North American Lens

Publication: Goods Movement 2030: An Urban Freight Blog
Publication Date: 2023
Summary:

At the spring Urban Freight Lab (UFL) meeting, members heard about four innovative approaches to planning streets so both people and goods can move more efficiently, safely, and sustainably. The catch? Europe is the only place most of these ideas have successfully scaled. So, how might these ideas translate or get adapted to a North American context as we look toward 2030?

In our last blog, we talked about an integrated freight and pedestrian approach Gothenburg, Sweden, has had on its streets for two decades. London, for its part, has had a low-emission zone (LEZ) for a decade and a half, with plans to expand its ultra-low-emission zone (ULEZ) in summer 2023. Meantime, in North American cities by and large we’re still figuring out how to pilot innovations — let alone roll them out on city streets in a big way.

And that’s no surprise, said Philippe Crist of the The International Transport Forum (ITF).

“Going from what is possible to what is actionable is going to be challenging in some instances, quite difficult in some instances, and in a handful of leading cities we’ll see some real progress,” Crist told UFL members. “And that’s OK because that’s how progress happens.”

So, what can we tackle first to make headway here? Ramp up modeling of innovative strategies, then test them on the street — much like the UFL has done with parcel lockers, a zero-emission last-mile delivery hub, and a first-of-its-kind real-time and forecasting curb parking app for commercial delivery drivers. Maybe that’s how we come up with a homegrown U.S. approach that works for our diverse physical and political landscape.

Here, we explore UFL member reflections to four innovative strategies presented and discussed at the spring meeting. We share overall reactions as well as questions and concerns raised about the challenges such strategies might face in a North American environment.

Recommended Citation:
“Lost in Translation? Considering Overseas Freight Planning Designs through a North American Lens.” Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, May 15, 2023. https://www.goodsmovement2030.com/post/strategies-for-freight-planning-from-overseas.