The ease of the delivery and collection of goods in urban areas has a significant influence on the economic power, quality of life, accessibility and attractiveness of the city.
Given the limited space available in urban areas, there is a severe competition between various means of passenger transport and freight transport. Ensuring the fluidity and efficiency of both can be challenging because urban goods delivery services operate at the end of integrated supply chains, whereas passenger transport serves individual needs. It is important to ensure that logistics systems can operate effectively in urban environments.
Urban logistics must contend with a variety of challenges, whilst catering to increasinly demanding consumer choices. Many local authorities in Europe impose access restrictions on freight vehicles. They restrict the movement of freight vehicles in city centres according to time, size, or weight. As a result, operators of goods transport are forced to adjust their logistic systems to deliver goods to such areas within the imposed time frame and/or to use smaller vehicles.
Such restrictions differ among different municipalities and are often unclear or inconsistent. These factors cause grave difficulties for operators that have to organise national-wide supply chains while responding to increasingly stringent customer demand for frequent, just-in-time and reliable deliveries.
New solutions for urban freight distribution should be looked at and supported. These include urban consolidation centres, alternatives for traditional freight deliveries and Intelligent Transport Systems. These can be cost-effective measures that have a positive impact both from an economic and environmental point of view.