High-Speed Delivery Linked to Increased Congestion and Pollution

It's not only mom and pop shops that suffer from over-reliance on online shopping: streets and the environment also suffer the consequences.

December 9, 2020, 9:00 AM PST

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery

Delivery Trucks

Canon / Flickr

"Almost all the climate and congestion benefits of online shopping are wiped out by rush deliveries, a study finds — which could spell disaster for U.S. roadways this holiday season," reports Kea Wilson. 

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of California Davis ITS Institute for Transportation Research, finds that high demand for same-day delivery forces courier companies to send fleets of almost empty trucks to dwellings across the country. These less than ideal conditions lead to congestion and increased carbon emissions

Analysts from the University of California Davis ITS Institute for Transportation Research modeled how the rising popularity of same-day delivery might translate to delivery trucks on our roads and greenhouse gasses in our skies. Unsurprisingly, the faster a company races to deliver a package, the more likely it is to send inefficient, near-empty trucks to far-flung homes.

"The average vehicle miles travelled for a package that was delivered in an hour or less was seven times higher than for a package delivered in as little as 24 hours; per-package nitrogen oxide emissions, meanwhile, were about six times higher for customers who selected the fastest available shipping," Wilson writes. 

To remedy the situation, Wilson suggests that done right, a smaller, "slower, more local kind of online retail" could reduce VMT. The more online shopping becomes that status quo, however, the fewer small neighborhood shops an services are lost, argues Wilson.

Monday, December 7, 2020 in Streetsblog USA

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

LAX Cars

Car Noise Is Killing Us

It’s not just traffic collisions that kill—a new study from researcher at Rutgers finds that the loud noises emanating from cars has direct impact on heart health in Americans.

May 6, 2022 - Streetsblog USA

Rittenhouse Square, a park in Philadelphia, framed by large buildings.

Parks as a Weapon Against Climate Change

The 2022 ParkScore finds that cities are increasingly employing green space as a tool for mitigating heat and extreme weather effects, but the distribution of parks remains inequitable.

May 16 - Trust for Public Land

View of Louisiana state capitol building and downton Baton Rouge, LA

Louisiana Capital Shifting to Electric Transit

The Baton Rouge area is now served by a fleet of nine all-electric buses.

May 16 - American Journal of Transportation

Mount Rainier

New Community Engagement Practices for Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan Update

A major update of Seattle’s comprehensive plan is just getting under way, with new opportunities for local groups to get involved with outreach and engagement.

May 16 - Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.