Though it’s long been essential to their prosperity, the efficient movement of cargo poses a significant challenge to many major cities. This challenge has only intensified with globalization and urban densification. In response, cities such as Paris and London are pioneering approaches to alleviate traffic, congestion and the environmental impacts of freight traffic through municipal planning and regulation.
In the United States, however, where decisions concerning interstate trade come under the jurisdiction of federal law, cities may be better served pursuing partnership and incentive programs, says Genevieve Giuliano, scholar at the University of Southern California.
"As states we can't impose regulations because of protection, so the next best thing is to have these negotiations to see what we can accomplish by providing incentives," says Giuliano. "The models we see in Europe, they're always initiated by government, but essentially they're partnerships: 'We have a problem, let's figure out how we're going to solve it.' "