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

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

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.