Addressing Online Retail's Ceaseless Curbside Deliveries

The rise of online retail has come with a flurry of delivery trucks that don't always have good places to stop. Researchers from Amazon's hometown are on the case.

1 minute read

January 29, 2018, 5:00 AM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Deliveries Truck

Philip Lange / Shutterstock

While a drone-based future for goods delivery gets a lot of hype, we're still stuck with trucks and vans (and some bikes). As Timothy A. Schuler writes, "The increase in deliveries has major implications for Complete Streets programs, which seek to accommodate the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and vehicular traffic within existing corridors."

In Amazon's hometown of Seattle, researchers are looking into the issue. "Recently, the City of Seattle partnered with the University of Washington (UW) and several major retailers to launch the Urban Freight Lab, a three-year research effort to better understand the rapidly changing landscape of goods delivery."

Curbside goods delivery is often a regulatory blank slate. "Unlike public transit, goods delivery has no single governing body or regulatory agency. [...] As a result, municipal governments often lack reliable data on where loading bays and loading zones are located, and whether or not they are meeting demand."

Anne Goodchild, director of UW's Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center, put it this way: "How much do we ask the transport to modify itself for the place? And how much do we modify the place for the transport?"

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