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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.
Technical Report

Requirements for a Washington State Freight Simulation Model

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Publication: Transportation Northwest (TransNow)
Publication Date: 2009

In the face of many risks of disruptions to our transportation system, including natural disasters, inclement weather, terrorist acts, work stoppages, and other potential transportation disruptions, it is imperative for freight transportation system partners to plan a transportation system that can recover quickly from disruption and to prevent long-term negative economic consequences to state and regional economies. In this report we specify the requirements of a statewide freight resiliency model. We recommend a geographic information system (GIS)-based, multi-modal Washington state freight transportation network that can be augmented with complete state-wide commodity flow data. With this, the state will be able to improve freight planning and infrastructure investment prioritization. We provide recommendations regarding the scope of and methodology for a statewide freight model that will be developed from the GIS network. This model can be used to estimate the vulnerability of different economic industry sectors to disruptions in the transportation system and the economic impacts of those disruptions with in the State of Washington. The team interviewed public sector users to understand what applications are of value in a statewide freight model and applied the lessons learned through building the GIS and conducting two case studies to make recommendations for future work.

Over the last ten years, the U.S. transportation infrastructure has suffered from significant disruptions: for example, the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, the West Coast lockout of dock labor union members, and roadway failures following Hurricane Katrina. There is certainly an impression that these events are more common than in the past and that they come with an increasing economic impact. At the same time, supply chain and transportation management techniques have created lean supply chains, and lack of infrastructure development has created more reliance on individual pieces or segments of the transportation network, such as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and Washington States’ ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Disruptions, when they occur to essential pieces of the network, cause significant impacts. In particular, they cause significant damage to the economic system.

The relationship between infrastructure and economic activity, however, is not well understood. The development of a statewide freight model will allow WSDOT to better understand this relationship, and improve transportation system resilience.

Authors: Dr. Anne GoodchildDr. Ed McCormack, Eric Jessup
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, A. , Jessup, E. , and McCormack, E. Requirements for a Washington State Freight Simulation Model. TNW2009-11. Transportation Northwest, University of Washington, 2009.
Technical Report

Developing Design Guidelines for Commercial Vehicle Envelopes on Urban Streets (Technical Report)

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Publication Date: 2020

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

Authors: Dr. Ed McCormackDr. Anne GoodchildManali Sheth, David S. Hurwitz, Hisham Jashami, Douglas P. Cobb
Recommended Citation:
McCormack, Ed. Anne Goodchild, Manali Sheth, (2020). Developing Design Guidelines for Commercial Vehicle Envelopes on Urban Streets.
Technical Report

Multimodal Freight Project Prioritization

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Publication: Oregon Department of Transportation, Research Section
Volume: FHWA-OR-RD-14-11
Publication Date: 2014

As available data has increased and as the national transportation funding bills have moved toward objective evaluation, departments of transportation (DOTs) throughout the country have begun to develop tools to measure the impacts of different projects. Increasingly, DOTs recognize the freight transportation system is necessarily multimodal. However, few DOTs have clearly stated objective tools to make multimodal freight project comparisons. This report informs that gap by summarizing the existing academic literature on the state of the science for freight project impact estimation and reviewing methods currently used by select DOTs nationwide. These methods are analyzed to identify common themes and determine potential avenues for multimodal project evaluation. Most methods either take the form of benefit-cost analysis or a scorecard approach. Examples of each were reviewed in-depth and patterns evaluated. While most tools use similar measures, the supporting metrics vary widely and are not applicable to all modes.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Erica Wygonik, B. Starr McMullen, Daniel Holder
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne, Erica Wygonik, B. Starr McMullen, and Daniel Holder. Multimodal freight project prioritization. No. FHWA-OR-RD-14-11. Oregon Dept. of Transportation, Research Section, 2014. 
Technical Report

Route Machine: UW Medicine Department of Medicine Courier Services

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Publication Date: 2019

The goal of this report is to survey the current state of practice of UW Medicine Department of Laboratory Medicine Courier Services in order to evaluate potential software(s) that can be implemented to fill information gaps needed to effectively and efficiently make informed decisions. The report describes the high-level goals and decision scope of the route machine, observations of the current state, evaluation criteria and ‘route machine’ options.

The information in this report can be used to inform:

  • What data insights (indicators) might be helpful for strategizing courier routing decisions and communicating information to leadership
  • Potential improvement strategies and what they might look like in implementation
  • Suitability of various data collection, visualization, and analytical tools, and off-the-shelf packages

This information provides the UW Department of Laboratory Medicine Courier Services the information needed to select tools(s), and general data insights the ‘route machine’ for implementation.

The rest of this document is organized as follows:

  • Objectives and decision scope of the ‘route machine’
  • Observations of the current routes
  • A list of key-performance indicators
  • Potential strategies for improving routes
  • Recommendations
  • Screenshots of Dashboard Prototypes and WorkWaze
Recommended Citation:
Greene, Chelsea and Anne Goodchild (2019). Route Machine: UW Medicine Department of Medicine Courier Services.
Technical Report

Improved Freight Modeling of Containerized Cargo Shipments between Ocean Port, Handling Facility, and Final Market for Regional Policy and Planning

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Publication: Transportation Northwest (TransNow)
Publication Date: 2008
The proposed research will address an emerging need by local, state and regional transportation planners and policymakers to better understand the transportation characteristics, functions and dynamics of ocean port-to-handling facility and handling facility-to-final market freight movements. The research will also address a gap in the academic literature for freight transportation models that capture underlying economic forces. This research effort will focus on the development and refinement of a regional freight model of urban container movements from the port to a handling facility and beyond. Existing regional transportation planning models and analytical tools have evolved from passenger travel demand models that are ill-suited to fully capture the business decisions and economic influences driving urban freight flows and have been further constrained by access to appropriate freight data. This research activity proposes a modeling approach which will capture the fundamental economic choices individual shippers consider when trading-off the marginal benefits/costs associated with warehouse inventory management/control relative to transportation access and flow while incorporating the primary freight generation activity centers (warehouse/distribution centers) in the Puget Sound region. This work will identify, evaluate and incorporate data for the Puget Sound region recently available from a variety of existing sources. Some data collection may also be necessary. The final product of this research study will be an improved tool to understand current and future freight movements through the Puget Sound region, and a methodology which will expand the current state of knowledge, and may be applied in other regions, both domestic and international. It will allow more in-depth and timely evaluation and analysis of different local/regional transportation policy initiatives such as the impact of migration of the main warehousing region, and development of inland inter-modal port facilities.



Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Kaori Fugisawa, Eric Jessup
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne V., Eric L. Jessup, and Kaori Fugisawa. Improved Freight Modeling of Containerized Cargo Shipments between Ocean Port, Handling Facility, and Final Market for Regional Policy and Planning. No. TNW2008-08. 2008.
Technical Report

Year One Progress Report: Technology Integration to Gain Commercial Efficiency for the Urban Goods Delivery System, Meet Future Demand for City Passenger and Delivery Load/Unload Spaces, and Reduce Energy Consumption

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Publication: U.S. Department of Energy
Publication Date: 2019

The objectives of this project are to develop and implement a technology solution to support research, development, and demonstration of data processing techniques, models, simulations, a smart phone application, and a visual-confirmation system to:

  1. Reduce delivery vehicle parking seeking behavior by approximately 20% in the pilot test area, by returning current and predicted load/unload space occupancy information to users on a web-based and/or mobile platform, to inform real-time parking decisions
  2. Reduce parcel truck dwell time in pilot test areas in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington, by approximately 30%, thereby increasing productivity of load/unload spaces near common carrier locker systems, and
  3. Improve the transportation network (which includes roads, intersections, warehouses, fulfillment centers, etc.) and commercial firms’ efficiency by increasing curb occupancy rates to roughly 80%, and alley space occupancy rates from 46% to 60% during peak hours, and increasing private loading bay occupancy rates in the afternoon peak times, in the pilot test area.

The project team has designed a 3-year plan, as follows, to achieve the objectives of this project.

In Year 1, the team developed integrated technologies and finalized the pilot test parameters. This involved finalizing the plan for placing sensory devices and common parcel locker systems on public and private property; issuing the request for proposals; selecting vendors; and gaining approvals necessary to execute the plan. The team also developed techniques to preprocess the data streams from the sensor devices, and began to design the prototype smart phone parking app to display real-time load/unload space availability, as well as the truck load/unload space behavior model.

Recommended Citation:
Urban Freight Lab (2020). Year One Progress Report: Technology Integration to Gain Commercial Efficiency for the Urban Goods Delivery System.
Technical Report

Development, Deployment, and Assessment of Activity-Based Transportation Courses

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Publication: U.S. Federal Highway Administration
Publication Date: 2012

This project developed four new activity‐based transportation courses including “Traffic Signal Systems Operations and Design”, “Understanding and Communicating Transportation Data”, “Introduction to Freight Transportation”, and “Rural Highway Design and Safety”. The courses are learner‐centered in which activities completed by students form the basis for their learning. The courses were offered fourteen times to a total of 195 students. Activity books that included 142 activities were developed for the four courses. The books and all supporting materials are available on the project web site. A number of assessments and evaluations were conducted to determine how effective the courses and materials were in meeting project objectives. The active learning style was a challenge for many students, as they were required to be prepared for class and to do “active” work during class. In general, there was an acceptance of the value of the active learning environments and how they positively contributed to student learning.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Michael Kyte, Steve Beyerlein, Shane Brown, Chris Monsere, Kelly Pitera, Ming Le
Recommended Citation:
Kyte, Michael, Steve Beyerlein, Shane Brown, Chris Monsere, Anne Goodchild, Kelly Pitera, and Ming Lee. "Development, Deployment, and Assessment of Activity-Based Transportation Courses." (2012).
Technical Report

Insights from Driver Parking Decisions in a Truck Simulator to Inform Curb Management Decisions

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Publication Date: 2023

Millions of people who live and work in cities purchase goods online. As ecommerce and urban deliveries spike, there is an increasing demand for curbside loading and unloading space. To better manage city curb spaces for urban freight, city planners and decision makers need to understand commercial vehicle driver behaviors and the factors they consider when parking at the curb.

Urban freight transportation is a diverse phenomenon. Commercial vehicle drivers must overcome several obstacles and adapt to various rules and policies to properly navigate the intricate metropolitan network and make deliveries and pick-ups. However, other road users and occasionally municipal planners generally view them as contributing considerably to urban congestio, responsible for unauthorized parking, double parking, and exceeding their legal parking time.

These realities reflect the need for a thorough comprehension of commercial vehicle operators’ core decision-making procedures and parking habits to inform and adjust curb management policies and procedures. However, more robust corroborated literature on the subject is needed. The information used in these studies is typically obtained from empirical field research, which, while valuable, is limited to certain situations and case scenarios. Therefore, to improve the operation of urban transportation networks, it is necessary to study commercial vehicle drivers’ parking behavior in a controlled environment.

This project used a heavy vehicle driving simulator to examine commercial vehicle drivers’ curbside parking behaviors in various environments in shared urban areas. Also observed were the interactions between commercial vehicle drivers and other road users.

The experiment was successfully completed by 12 participants. Five independent variables were included in this experiment: number of lanes (two-lane and four-lane roads), bike lane existence, passenger vehicle parking space availability, commercial vehicle loading zones (CVLZs) (no CVLZ, occupied CVLZs, and unoccupied CVLZs), and parking time (short-term parking: 3 to 5 minutes and long-term parking: 20 to 60 minutes). The heavy vehicle driving simulator also collected data regarding participants’ driving speed, eye movement, and stress level.

Results from the heavy vehicle driving simulator experiment indicated that the presence of a bike lane had significant effects on commercial vehicle drivers’ parking decisions., but only a slight effect on fixation duration times. The average fixation duration time, representing how long participants looked at a particular object, on the road with a bike lane was 4.81 seconds, whereas it was 5.25 seconds on roads without a bike lane. Results also showed that the frequency of illegal parking (not parking in the CVLZs) was greater during short-term parking activities, occurring 60 times (45 percent of parking maneuvers). Delivery times also had a slight effect on commercial vehicles’ speed while searching for parking (short-term parking was 17.7 mph; long term parking was 17.2 mph) and on drivers’ level of stress (short-term parking was 8.16 peaks/mins; long-term parking was 8.36 peaks/mins). Seven percent of participants chose to park in the travel lane, which suggested that commercial vehicle operators prioritize minimizing their walking distance to the destination over the violation of parking regulations.

The limited sample size demonstrated the value of our experimental approach but limited the strength of the recommendations that can be applied to practice. With that limitation acknowledged, our preliminary recommendations for city planners include infrastructure installation (i.e., convex mirrors installed at the curbside and CVLZ signs) to help drivers more easily identify legal parking spaces, and pavement markings (i.e., CVLZs, buffered bike lanes) to improve safety when parking. Parking time limits and buffers for bike lanes could improve efficient operation and safety for cyclists and other road users.

For future work, larger sample sizes should be collected. Additional factors could be considered, such as increased traffic flow, pedestrian traffic, conflicts among multiple delivery vehicles simultaneously, various curb use type allocations, and different curb policies and enforcement. Including a larger variety of commercial vehicle sizes and loading, zone sizes would also be of value. A combination of field observations and a driving simulator study could also help validate this investigation’s outcomes.

Authors: Dr. Andisheh RanjbariDr. Anne GoodchildDr. Ed McCormackRishi Verma, David S. Hurwitz (Oregon State University), Yujun Liu (Oregon State University), Hisham Jashami (Oregon State University)
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, A., McCormack, E., Hurwitz, D., Ranjbari, A., Verma, R., Liu, Y., & Jashami, H. (2023). Insights from Driver Parking Decisions in a Truck Simulator to Inform Curb Management Decisions. PacTrans. 
Technical Report

Using Truck Fleet Management GPS Data to Develop the Foundation for a Performance Measures Program

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Publication: Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC)
Publication Date: 2011

Global positioning systems (GPS) used for fleet management by trucking companies provide probe data that can support a truck performance-monitoring program. This paper discusses the steps taken to acquire fleet management data and then process those data so they can eventually be used for a network-based truck performance measures program. While other studies have evaluated truck travel by using GPS, they have used a limited number of project-specific and temporary devices that have collected frequent location reads, permitting a fine-grained performance analysis of specific roadway segments. In contrast, this fleet management GPS data project involved infrequent reads but a relatively large number of different trucks with ongoing data collection. The most effective approach to obtaining the fleet management data was to purchase the data directly from GPS vendors. Because a performance measures program ultimately monitors trips generated by trucks as they travel between origins and destinations, an algorithm was developed to extract trip end information from the data. The large volume of data required automated processing without manual intervention. Because performance measures require travel times and speeds, it was also necessary to evaluate whether speed data from a large number of trucks could compensate for infrequent location reads. Spot speeds recorded by the trucks’ GPS devices were compared to speed data from roadway loops. The researchers concluded that spot speed data can indicate free flow conditions, but sufficient quantities of data are probably necessary to measure congested travel.


Authors: Dr. Ed McCormack, Wenjuan Zhao
Recommended Citation:
McCormack, E. D., Zhao, W., & Tabat, D. (2011). GPS truck data performance measures program in Washington State. Washington State Department of Transportation, Office of Research.