There is growing pressure in cities to unlock the potential of every public infrastructure element as density and demand for urban resources increase. Despite their historical role as providing access to land uses for freight and servicing, alleys have not been studied as a resource in modern freight access planning.
The authors developed a replicable data collection method to build and maintain an alley inventory and operations study focused on commercial vehicles. A Seattle Case study showed that 40% of the urban center city blocks have an alley. 90% of those alleys are wide enough to accommodate only a single lane for commercial vehicles. 437 parking operations were recorded in seven alleys during business hours and found that all alleys were vacant 50% of the time.
This confirms that, in its alleys, Seattle has a valuable resource as both space for freight load/unload; and direct access to parking facilities and business entrances for commercial, private, and emergency response vehicles.
However, alley design features and the prevalence of parking facilities accessed through the alley may restrict the freight load/unload space in the alley. Future efforts should investigate how to better manage these infrastructures.
Machado-León, Girón-Valderrama, G. del C., & Goodchild, A. (2020). Bringing Alleys to Light: An Urban Freight Infrastructure Viewpoint. Cities, 105. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2020.102847