lundi 26 novembre 2018

Micro-Depots and Logistic Trams: Great Solutions to Reduce Traffic and improve Air Quality in Frankfurt

Every day, all kinds of materials and goods enter the city. Those flows of materials and goods, e.g. Urban Freight transport (UFT), are of growing concern. According to a study, UFT accounts for about 20%-30% of vehicle kilometres and generates up to 50% of air pollution in the city.

European cities are estimated to spend about EUR 80 billion each year due to chronic congestion – not to mention the increasing danger for road accidents happening in urban areas (over 38% of all road accidents). Given the increase of online orders and the growing popularity of e-commerce, the number of parcel-deliveries is expected to grow, causing traffic increase and generating even more pollution.

Since urban transport is a problem and urban freight transport is accounting for a large part of it, it is time to give some attention to the importance of UFT that we discussed in a previous article and suggested possible ways to improve it. There are new actions that can be added to our list of measures to reduce traffic in cities.

Micro Logistics for improving City Logistics Management

With a so-called micro depot, e.g. a container or property storing parcels, the German city Frankfurt am Main is reducing the number of delivery vehicles by three per day. Since October last year, the city and its partners, the UPS delivery service, IHK Frankfurt and the House of Logistics and Mobility (HOLM) GmbH, have been testing this model of logistics in the framework of a two-year model project within the Hesse region. Thus, the UPS has installed a micro depot as an interim storage close to the city´s stock exchange.

From there, the parcels´ journeys continue on green ground : Picked up by either an electrically supported or conventional cargo wheel, a sack truck, or by foot, they are delivered to their future owners. This delivers not only the parcel itself- but many great results. According to UPS, one micro depot reduces the number of delivery vehicles by three per day, saving about 32 litres of diesel fuel, which accounts for about 85 kg of carbon dioxide emissions per day. With a number of 300 operating days per year, the deployment of one micro depot reduces the annual amount of CO2 in Frankfurt by 25.5 tons.

Tarek Al-Wazir, Hesse’s minister for economic affairs, energy, transport and regional development, acknowledged the results : "We need micro-depots in all cities in Hesse, because the concept works. This is not only shown by the pilot project in Frankfurt, but also by the first experiences from Offenbach. The combination of micro-depot and redistribution by load electric bike is an essential contribution to improve the air in our cities and to reduce the traffic load".

More recently, a logistics tram conducts the parcel delivery to the micro depot. The idea dates back to the sixties when trams delivered parcels in German cities on a daily basis. Today, there are few examples, such as the “CarGoTram” in Dresden, where a tram supplies a car factory. We see the combination of logistics trams and Micro Depots as a creative solution for urban logistics.

Sustainable behaviour : an individual obligation ?

In 2016, more than 3 billion deliveries had been counted in Germany. A number, which is expected to rise to about 4 billion by 2020. In addition, door-to-door deliveries are skyrocketing. EU citizens see local authorities responsible for reducing road traffic. That is why having a closer look at your cities´ micro logistics and re-thinking UFT might be worth it. At the same time, sharing responsibility is crucial : individuals should re-consider their (online) shopping behaviours.

E-commerce giants are growing in size and turnover, so is their carbon and waste footprint. This summer, amazon made the headlines for destroying brand new and functioning returned goods worth “tens of thousands of euros on a daily basis”. Other companies, such as Burberry, H&M, Nike and Urban Outfitters have been in the spotlight for “destroying tons of returned items”.

Despite the moral considerations (which did not yet include the miserable working conditions in some of the e-commerce giants), that might lead to a reduction in deliveries, there is a lot cities can do to improve urban freight traffic. According to a study, most European cities are lagging behind urban freight transport policies. It is hence high time to include long-term freight transport planning into local transport policies.

How far are you in freight transport planning ?

Since efforts from transport companies are not enough, policies need to target emissions reductions and improve local infrastructure, too. For example, when German’s main delivery service, the “Deutsche Post”, hit the headlines because of their electrical street scooter, the city of Frankfurt decided to construct 400 electric car charging stations. Likewise, when 5 delivery services decide to deliver their parcels via bicycles, as in Berlin, an adequate infrastructure for bicycle traffic is needed.

These examples show the significant role of local authorities in shaping urban freight transport. Many aspects are yet to be considered : should cities define specific delivery zones ? Should they think about spatial restrictions based on the weight and volume of freight vehicles- maybe introducing time windows for delivery vehicles ? Taking urban freight transport into consideration for urban space planning is a must ! Some cities, such as Berlin, Budapest, Dublin, Helsinki, Paris and Vienna are going even further, and stress the importance of developing a separate freight transport plan. A lot of work… But it might be worth it ! ;)

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by Tatjana Veith on 26 novembre 2018 / 928 visits

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