City Logistics and Land Use
City logistics, as a "last mile" distributional strategy, can take many forms depending on the concerned supply chains (e.g. retailing, parcels, food deliveries, etc.) as well as the urban setting in which it takes place. The insertion of various freight facilities within the urban land use aims to achieve the goals of reducing congestion, changing the types of vehicles used for deliveries, reducing the environmental impacts of urban freight distribution as well as improving its efficiency, particularly in terms of reducing the urban footprint of logistics.  On the above figure, a high density and congested central city can be serviced through several freight distribution strategies:
  • A) An independent freight distribution system calling from a distribution center located at the periphery. The vehicles used to service the customers (either for deliveries or pickups along a flexible route) are likely to be smaller and thus better adapted for distribution in an urban environment. This represents the standard urban freight distribution strategy.
  • B) As a large number of distribution centers were relocated to peripheral areas due to a lack of available space, the need to set urban logistics zones (ULZ) became more prevalent. They try to rationalize the multiplication of freight distribution movements, as well as their longer distances, derived from suburban distribution centers by providing space in relative proximity to central areas. They are commonly developed over brownfield sites that can provide additional benefit if adjacent to existing port, airport or rail terminal facilities.
  • C) An emerging strategy concerns the setting of urban freight distribution centers (UFDC) which are shared facilities interfacing with a set of distribution centers, each being connected to their respective supply chains. Thus, a wide array of supply chains connected to the city can achieve a better distributional efficiency within the central city. In this case, the last mile is assumed by shared vehicles operating on the behalf of the customers of the UFDC. On some occasions the UFDC can combine several activities within the same facility, such as office and retail functions, to maximize revenue generation.
  • D) For suitable supply chains such as parcel services it is possible to service an urban area through a series of urban freight stations (UFS) which are small facilities where cargo can be dropped and picked up. A common problem in parcel delivery or pickup is that it requires both the customer and the carrier to be available at the same time and location. A UFS near highly frequented locations offers the highest proximity level to customers and can therefore mitigate the matching issue between the delivery vehicle and the customer.
There is also the possibility of using the existing public transit system to move freight but this implies several challenges in terms of the adaptation of modes, the usage of existing passengers terminals and scheduling issues. Such strategies remain marginal.