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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
Article

More Online Shopping Means More Delivery Trucks. Are Cities Ready?

 
Download PDF  (2.46 MB)
Publication: The Conversation
Publication Date: 2016
Summary:

Two converging trends — the rise of e-commerce and urban population growth — are creating big challenges for cities. Online shoppers are learning to expect the urban freight delivery system to bring them whatever they want, wherever they want it, within one to two hours. That’s especially true during the holidays, as shipping companies hustle to deliver gift orders on time.

City managers and policymakers were already grappling with high demand and competing uses for scarce road, curb, and sidewalk space. If cities do not act quickly to revamp the way they manage increasing numbers of commercial vehicles unloading goods in streets and alleys and into buildings, they will drown in a sea of double-parked trucks.

The University of Washington has formed a new Urban Freight Lab to solve delivery system problems that cities and the business sector cannot handle on their own. Funders of this long-term strategic research partnership include the City of Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and five founding corporate members: Costco, FedEx, Nordstrom, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service.

The core problem facing cities is that they are trying to manage their part of a sophisticated data-powered 21st-century delivery system with tools designed for the 1800s — and they are often trying to do it alone. Consumers can order groceries, clothes, and electronics with a click, but most cities only have a stripe of colored paint to manage truck parking at the curb. The Urban Freight Lab brings building managers, retailers, logistics and tech firms, and city government together to do applied research and develop advanced solutions.

Moving more goods, more quickly

We have reached the point where millions of people who live and work in cities purchase more than half of their goods online. This trend is putting tremendous pressure on local governments to rethink how they manage street curb parking and alley operations for trucks and other delivery vehicles. It also forces building operators to plan for the influx of online goods. A few years ago, building concierges may have received a few flower bouquets. Now many are sorting and storing groceries and other goods for hundreds of residents every week.

In the first quarter of 2016, almost 8 percent of total U.S. retail sales took place online. Surging growth in U.S. online sales has averaged more than 15 percent year-over-year since 2010. Black Friday web sales soared by 22 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Online shoppers’ expectations for service are also rising. Two out of three shoppers expect to be able to place an order as late as 5:00 p.m. for next-day delivery. Three out of five believe orders placed by noon should be delivered the same day, and one out of four believe orders placed by 4:00 p.m. or later should still be delivered on the same day.

City living and shopping is still all about location, location, location. People are attracted to urban neighborhoods because they prefer to walk more and drive less. Respondents in the 2015 National Multifamily Housing Council-Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Survey preferred walking to grocery stores and restaurants rather than driving by seven points. But this lifestyle requires merchants to deliver goods to customers’ homes, office buildings or stores close to where they live.

Smarter delivery systems

SDOT recently published Seattle’s first draft Freight Master Plan, which includes high-level strategies to improve the urban goods delivery system. But before city managers act, they need evidence to prove which concepts will deliver results.

To lay the groundwork for our research, an SCTL team led by Dr. Ed McCormack and graduate students Jose Machado Leon and Gabriela Giron surveyed 523 blocks of Seattle’s downtown (including Belltown, the commercial core, Pioneer Square and International District), South Lake Union and Uptown urban centers in the fall of 2016. They compiled GIS coordinates and infrastructure characteristics for all observable freight loading bays within buildings. Our next step is to combine this information with existing GIS layers of the city’s curbside commercial vehicle load zones and alleys to produce a complete map of Seattle’s urban delivery infrastructure.

In our first research project, the Urban Freight Lab is using data-based process improvement tools to purposefully manage both public and private operations of the Final-50-Feet space. The final 50 feet of the urban delivery system begins when a truck stops at a city-owned curb, commercial vehicle load zone or alley. It extends along sidewalks and through privately owned building freight bays, and may end in common areas within a building, such as the lobby.

One key issue is failed deliveries: Some city residents don’t receive their parcels due to theft or because they weren’t home to accept them. Could there be secure, common drop-off points for multiple carriers to use, attached to bus stops or on the sidewalk?

The most pressing issue is the lack of space for trucks to park and deliver goods downtown. It may be possible to use technology to get more use out of existing commercial vehicle load zones. For example, trucks might be able to use spaces now reserved exclusively for other uses during off-peak hours or seasons.

To analyze the fundamental problems in the urban logistics system, our research team will create process flow maps of each step in the goods delivery process for five buildings in Seattle. We will collect data and build a model to analyze “what if” scenarios for one location. Then we will pilot test several promising low-cost, high-value actions on Seattle streets in the fall of 2017. The pilots may involve actively managing city load zones and alleys to maximize truck use, or changing the way people use freight elevators.

By using information technologies and creative planning, we can make receiving online goods as efficient as ordering them — without clogging our streets or losing our packages.

Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, A., & Ivanov, B. (2016, December 20). More online shopping means more delivery trucks. Are cities ready? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/more-online-shopping-means-more-delivery-trucks-are-cities-ready-67686.
Article

How Many Amazon Packages Get Delivered Each Year?

Publication: The Conversation
Publication Date: 2022
Summary:

How many Amazon packages get delivered each year? – Aya K., age 9, Illinois

It’s incredibly convenient to buy something online, right from your computer or phone. Whether it’s a high-end telescope or a resupply of toothpaste, the goods appear right at your doorstep. This kind of shopping is called “e-commerce” and it’s becoming more popular each year. In the U.S., it has grown from a mere 7% of retail purchases in 2012 to 19.6% of retail and $791.7 billion in sales in 2020.

Amazon’s growing reach
For Amazon, the biggest player in e-commerce, this means delivering lots of packages.

In 2021 Amazon shipped an estimated 7.7 billion packages globally, based on its nearly $470 billion in sales.

In 2021 Amazon shipped an estimated 7.7 billion packages globally.

If each of these packages were a 1-foot square box and they were stacked on top of one another, the pile would be six times higher than the distance from the Earth to the Moon. Laid end to end, they would wrap around the Earth 62 times.

Back in the early 2010s, most things bought from Amazon.com were shipped using a third-party carrier like FedEx or UPS. In 2014, however, Amazon began delivering packages itself with a service called “Fulfilled by Amazon.” That’s when those signature blue delivery vans started appearing on local streets.

Since then, Amazon’s logistics arm has grown from relying entirely on other carriers to shipping 22% of all packages in the U.S. in 2021. This is greater than FedEx’s 19% market share and within striking distance of UPS’s 24%. Amazon’s multichannel fulfillment service allows other websites to use its warehousing and shipping services. So your order from Etsy or eBay could also be packed and shipped by Amazon.

The supply chain
To handle that many packages, shipping companies need an extensive network of manufacturers, vehicles and warehouses that can coordinate together. This is called the supply chain. If you’ve ever used a tracking number to follow a package, you’ve seen it in action.

People who make decisions about where to send vehicles and how to route packages are constantly trying to keep costs down while still getting packages to customers on time. The supply chain can do this very effectively, but it also has downsides.

More delivery vehicles on the road produce more greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, along with pollutants like nitrogen oxides and particulate matter that are hazardous to breathe. Traffic congestion is also a major concern in cities as delivery drivers try to find parking on busy streets.

Urban freight solutions
Are there ways to balance the increasing number of deliveries while making freight safe, sustainable and fast? At the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab, we work with companies like Amazon and UPS and others in the shipping, transportation and real estate sectors to answer questions like this. Here are some solutions for what we and our colleagues call the “last mile” – the last leg of a package’s long journey to your doorstep.

  • Electrification: Transitioning from gasoline and diesel vehicles to fleets of electric or other zero-emission vehicles reduces pollution from delivery trucks. Tax credits and local policies, such as creating so-called green loading zones and zero-emission zones for clean vehicles, create incentives for companies to make the switch.
  • Common carrier lockers: Buildings can install lockers at central locations, such as busy transit stops, so that drivers can drop off packages without going all the way to your doorstep. When you’re ready to pick up your items, you just stop by at a time that’s convenient for you. This reduces both delivery truck mileage and the risk of packages being stolen off of porches.
  • Cargo bicycles: Companies can take the delivery truck out of the equation and use electric cargo bicycles to drop off smaller packages. In addition to being zero-emission, cargo bicycles are relatively inexpensive and easy to park, and they provide a healthier alternative for delivery workers.

To learn more about supply chains and delivery logistics, check with your town or city’s transportation department to see if they are testing or already have goods delivery programs or policies, like those in New York and Seattle. And the next time you order something for delivery, consider your options for receiving it, such as walking or biking to a package locker or pickup point, or consolidating your items into a single delivery.

Package delivery can be both convenient and sustainable if companies keep evolving their supply chains, and everyone thinks about how they want delivery to work in their neighborhoods.

Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, A. How many Amazon packages get delivered each year? The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/how-many-amazon-packages-get-delivered-each-year-187587

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

The Urban Freight Lab (UFL) received $1.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to help goods delivery drivers find a place to park without driving around the block in crowded cities for hours, wasting time and fuel and adding to congestion. The project partners will integrate sensor technologies, develop data platforms to process large data streams, and publish a prototype app to let delivery drivers know when a parking space is open – and when it’s predicted to be open so they can plan to arrive when another truck is leaving.

The UFL will also pilot test common carrier locker systems in public and private load/unload spaces near transit stops. Transit riders, downtown workers, and residents will be able to pick up packages they ordered online from any retailer in a convenient and secure locker in a public plaza or outside their office. The benefits don’t stop there. Common carrier lockers create delivery density that increases the productivity of parking spaces and provides significant commercial efficiencies. They do this by reducing the amount of time it takes delivery people to complete their work. The driver parks next to the locker system, loads packages into it, and returns to the truck. When delivery people spend less time going door-to-door, it decreases the time their truck needs to be parked, increasing turnover and adding parking capacity in crowded cities.

This is a timely project as cities are looking for new strategies to accommodate the rapid growth of e-commerce. Online shopping has grown by 15% annually for the past 11 years, and is now 9% of total retail sales in the U.S., with $453.5 billion in revenue in 2017. Many online shoppers want the goods delivery system to bring them whatever they want, where they want it, in one to two hours. At the same time, many cities are replacing goods delivery load/unload spaces with transit and bike lanes. Cities need new load/unload space concepts supported by technology to make the leap to autonomous cars and trucks in the street, and autonomous freight vehicles in the Final 50 Feet of the goods delivery system. The Final 50 feet segment starts when a truck parks in a load/unload space, and includes delivery persons’ activities as they maneuver goods along sidewalks and into urban towers to make their deliveries.

The goals of this project are to:

  • Reduce parking seeking behavior by 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.
  • Reduce parcel truck dwell time in pilot test area locations by 30%, thereby increasing productivity of load/unload spaces near common carrier locker systems.
  • Increase network and commercial firms’ efficiency by increasing curb and alley space occupancy rates, and underutilized private loading bay occupancy in the p.m. peak, in the pilot test area.

Cost-share partnering organizations are:

  • Seattle Department of Transportation
  • Bellevue Department of Transportation
  • CBRE Seattle
  • King County Metro Transit
  • Kroger Company
  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
  • Sound Transit

Members of the UFL are also participating in the project. Pacific National National Laboratory (PNNL) is a partner, completing several of the project tasks.

Presentation

Ecommerce and Environmental Justice in Metro Seattle U.S.

 
Publication: Laboratoire Ville Mobilite Transport (City Transportation Mobility Laboratory), Paris
Publication Date: 2022
Summary:

The central research question for this project explores the distributional impacts of ecommerce and its implications for equity and justice.

The research aims to investigate how commercial land use affects people and communities. In 2018, U.S. warehouses surpassed office buildings as the primary form of commercial and industrial land use, now accounting for 18 billion square feet of floor space. Warehouses have experienced significant growth in both number and square footage, becoming the predominant land use in the U.S. Warehouse expansion has strategically sprawled from port areas to suburbs in order to get closer to populations and transportation access.

The research findings reveal a correlation between warehouse locations and lower-income communities, resulting in increased exposure to air pollution and triple the traffic associated with ecommerce. Conversely, higher-income populations experience the least exposure, despite making more than half of their purchases online compared to their lower-income counterparts.

Factors such as race and proximity to highways and warehouse locations emerge as stronger predictors of the volume of freight activity through ecommerce than individuals’ income levels or the number of orders placed. Going forward, there is an opportunity for retailers and distributors to take into account the health implications of warehouse placement, and governments can provide best practices to facilitate municipal coordination, particularly where local authorities may be unaware of the impacts.

Authors: Travis Fried
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

 
Download PDF  (5.08 MB)
Publication: U.S. Department of Energy
Publication Date: 2019
Summary:

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

Cost, Emissions, and Customer Service Trade-Off Analysis In Pickup and Delivery Systems

Publication: Oregon Department of Transportation, Research Section
Publication Date: 2011
Summary:

This research offers a novel formulation for including emissions into fleet assignment and vehicle routing and for the trade-offs faced by fleet operators between cost, emissions, and service quality. This approach enables evaluation of the impact of a variety of internal changes (e.g. time window schemes) and external policies (e.g. spatial restrictions), and enables comparisons of the relative impacts on fleet emissions. To apply the above approach to real fleets, three different case studies were developed. Each of these cases has significant differences in their fleet composition, customers’ requirements, and operational features that provide this research with the opportunity to explore different scenarios.

The research includes estimations of the impact on cost and CO2 and NOX emissions from fleet upgrades, the impact on cost, emissions, and customer wait time when demand density or location changes, and the impact on cost, emissions, and customer wait time from congestion and time window flexibility. Additionally, it shows that any infrastructure use restriction increases cost and emissions. A discussion of the implications for policymakers and fleet operators in a variety of physical and transportation environments is also presented.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Felipe Sandoval
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, A., & Sandoval, F. (2011). Cost, Emissions, and Customer Service Trade-Off Analysis In Pickup and Delivery Systems (No. OR-RD 11-13). Oregon Department of Transportation Research Section.
Paper

An Analytical Model for Vehicle Miles Traveled and Carbon Emissions for Goods Delivery Scenarios

 
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Publication: European Transport Research Review
Volume: 10
Publication Date: 2018
Summary:

This paper presents an analytical model to contrast the carbon emissions from a number of goods delivery methods. This includes individuals travelling to the store by car, and delivery trucks delivering to homes. While the impact of growing home delivery services has been studied with combinatorial approaches, those approaches do not allow for systematic conclusions regarding when the service provides net benefit. The use of the analytical approach presented here, allows for more systematic relationships to be established between problem parameters, and therefore broader conclusions regarding when delivery services may provide a CO2 benefit over personal travel.

Methods

Analytical mathematical models are developed to approximate total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and carbon emissions for a personal vehicle travel scenario, a local depot vehicle travel scenario, and a regional warehouse travel scenario. A graphical heuristic is developed to compare the carbon emissions of a personal vehicle travel scenario and local depot delivery scenario.

Results

The analytical approach developed and presented in the paper demonstrates that two key variables drive whether a delivery service or personal travel will provide a lower CO2 solution. These are the emissions ratio, and customer density. The emissions ratio represents the relative emissions impact of the delivery vehicle when compared to the personal vehicle. The results show that with a small number of customers, and low emissions ratio, personal travel is preferred. In contrast, with a high number of customers and low emissions ratio, delivery service is preferred.

Conclusions

While other research into the impact of delivery services on CO2 emissions has generally used a combinatorial approach, this paper considers the problem using an analytical model. A detailed simulation can provide locational specificity, but provides less insight into the fundamental drivers of system behavior. The analytical approach exposes the problem’s basic relationships that are independent of local geography and infrastructure. The result is a simple method for identifying context when personal travel, or delivery service, is more CO2 efficient.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Erica Wygonik, Nathan Mayes
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne, Erica Wygonik, and Nathan Mayes. "An analytical model for vehicle miles traveled and carbon emissions for goods delivery scenarios." European Transport Research Review 10, no. 1 (2018): 8.
Paper

Urban Form and Last-Mile Goods Movement: Factors Affecting Vehicle Miles Travelled and Emissions

 
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Publication: Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Volume: 61 (A)
Pages: 217-229
Publication Date: 2018
Summary:

There are established relationships between urban form and passenger travel, but less is known about urban form and goods movement. The work presented in this paper evaluates how the design of a delivery service and the urban form in which it operates affects its performance, as measured by vehicle miles traveled, CO2, NOx, and PM10 emissions.

This work compares simulated amounts of VMT, CO2, NOx, and PM10 generated by last-mile travel in several different development patterns and in many different goods movement structures, including various warehouse locations. Last-mile travel includes personal travel or delivery vehicles delivering goods to customers. Regression models for each goods movement scheme and models that compare sets of goods movement schemes were developed. The most influential variables in all models were measures of roadway density and proximity of a service area to the regional warehouse.

These efforts will support urban planning for goods movement, inform policies designed to mitigate the impacts of goods movement vehicles, and provide insights into achieving sustainability targets, especially as online shopping and goods delivery become more prevalent.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Erica Wygonik
Recommended Citation:
Wygonik, Erica and Anne Goodchild. (2018) Urban Form and Last-Mile Goods Movement: Factors Affecting Vehicle Miles Travelled and Emissions. Transportation Research. Part D, Transport and Environment, 61, 217–229. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2016.09.015
Paper

Delivery by Drone: An Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology in Reducing CO2 Emissions in the Delivery Service Industry

 
Download PDF  (2.33 MB)
Publication: Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Volume: 61
Pages: 58-67
Publication Date: 2018
Summary:

This research paper estimates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) levels of two delivery models, one by trucks and the other by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or “drones.”

Using several ArcGIS tools and emission standards within a framework of logistical and operational assumptions, it has been found that emission results vary greatly and are highly dependent on the energy requirements of the drone, as well as the distance it must travel and the number of recipients it serves.

Still, general conditions are identified under which drones are likely to provide a CO2 benefit – when service zones are close to the depot, have small numbers of stops, or both. Additionally, measures of VMT for both modes were found to be relatively consistent with existing literature that compares traditional passenger travel with truck delivery.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Jordan Toy
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne, and Jordan Toy. "Delivery by Drone: An Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology in Reducing CO2 Emissions in the Delivery Service Industry" Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment 61 (2018): 58-67.