Smart City Logistics tool aims to help local authorities improve urban freight deliveries

An online tool has been developed to help local authorities explore sustainable urban freight scenarios for their city centres.

Smart City Logistics uses geographic information system technology to create an open source platform mapping a range of data including access restrictions, loading and unloading facilities, population, land use and carbon emissions.

It was developed as part of the Last Mile Logistics (LaMiLo) project by the Luxembourg Institute for Science and Technology with an aim to provide information to minimise congestion, CO2 and air and noise pollution from urban freight journeys.

Data is currently available for London, Brussels and Luxembourg with the developers looking to include Bergamo in Italy by the end of May. The tool can be developed for any town or urban environment, however, the maps’ availability would depend on the relevant town data being accessible.

Ian Short, chief executive, Institute for Sustainability, said: “The rise in online shopping trends has driven a dramatic increase in freight deliveries, urban transport of goods taking 20% to 25% of road occupancy. This inevitably impacts on traffic congestion, CO2 emissions and noise and air pollution levels. Finding solutions to manage the last mile of deliveries that work for businesses, consumers and the environment requires an integrated understanding of transport, environmental and socio-economic aspects to arrive at sustainable solutions.”

Using the Smart City Logistics platform, city planners can explore options for suitable locations for logistics facilities such as urban consolidation centres and use the results to inform future planning. Different scenarios can be modelled and compared to current operations to quantify potential savings in terms of road miles, congestion and air pollution.

In addition, the route selection feature identifies the shortest path for a delivery vehicle considering different parameters such as the weight load and access. This can help determine the optimum route for vehicles and help delivery companies save on fuel cost and manage time more efficiently as well as help manage traffic congestion. The platform also gives users the ability to test different potential scenarios based on future projections of number and type of vehicle, and see the variations in CO2 emissions compared to the current situation.

LaMiLo is an programme project part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


Croydon Council trialling Cycle Alert safety system on own fleet

Croydon Council has launched a six-month trial of Cycle Alert technology on three of its own HGVs as part of its wider drive to promote safe urban cycling on its streets.
Cycle Alert is an RFID sensory system to detect cyclists in vehicles’ blindspots. It comprises a wireless low-power sensor on the vehicle, a cab-mounted device to alert the driver of a cyclist’s presence and a tag fitted to bicycles.

Carole Crankshaw, regeneration development and environment department senior transport planner and biking borough programme manager of Croydon Council, said, “As the number of cyclists in Croydon increases, we must ensure that we are doing everything we can to help keep them safe, to educate and to provide the necessary tools for safe urban cycling.

“By piloting Cycle Alert in addition to all the other vehicle safety measures we have put in place under the Fors scheme, we are pioneering a safer Croydon for cyclists.”

Reliance of tags to be fitted to bicycles has come under fire previously from cycling lobby groups, citing safety issues for those cyclists not using tags, however Croydon Council said it will be encouraging take-up by providing several hundred free tags at local bike shops in the borough.

“We’ll review this trial after the six months are up, and then decide if we’ll take it further,” a spokesman said.

Peter Le Masurier, Cycle Alert founder, added: “It comes up time and time again, the issue of road user ‘tribes’ and a lack of accountability. Cycle Alert aims to help tackle those dogmas and opens the door to mutual respect on our roads.”

New out-of-hours delivery guide aims to garner residents’ buy-in

The government has developed Quiet Deliveries guidance to help local communities and residents understand how out-of-hours deliveries work, the benefits they can provide, and how they can have a say in the planning process.

Advice complements an existing series of DfT guides designed for other stakeholders considering out-of-hours deliveries, including freight operators, retailers and the construction sector, following the Quiet Deliveries Demonstration Scheme trial in 2010-2011 and further pilots during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Benefits promoted to communities include reduced congestion, alongside road safety and air quality enhancements resulting from fewer peak-time deliveries.

“We hope that through the use of this guide that this will help local communities in their understanding of what a good quality, well-managed Quiet Delivery Scheme looks like, and for them to be able to work proactively with retailers, freight operators and developers alike.”

Earlier this week, TfL urged operators and businesses to explore re-timed deliveries while its £4bn Roads Modernisation Plan took place in the capital.

Video highlights last-mile delivery pilots across European cities

An EU-funded project exploring sustainable last-mile deliveries has launched a video to highlight a series of pilots taking place across cities in north-west Europe, including London.

The LaMiLo scheme, comprising private logistics firms, local authorities and researchers, is aiming to demonstrate the economic, environmental and social benefits of consolidating deliveries and using more eco-friendly transport options for the final mile, such as electric vans or bicycles.

Ian Short, chief executive at the Institute for Sustainability in the UK and LaMiLo lead partner, said: “While most organisations extend their supply chains to large retailers, many do not focus on last mile deliveries to homes or smaller shops. Finding solutions to manage the last mile of deliveries that work for businesses, consumers and the environment is increasingly important as the way we shop continues to evolve.  With 60% of home deliveries failing, the Institute has been working with partner organisations on a range of pilots to look at how the process can be streamlined.”

In the UK, the video shows how the London Boroughs Consolidation Centre based in Edmonton, headed up by Camden Council and currently operated by DHL, serves deliveries from more than 70 suppliers into 300 council buildings in the capital.

The video also looks at a public-sector-run consolidation centre pilot in Brussels that is managing retailers’ goods for consolidated delivery using low-emission vehicles and demonstrating how both private and public sector organisations can work together towards efficient and sustainable urban logistics ; and in the Netherlands testing a potential solution to the issue of failed deliveries to consumers. This includes delivering goods at a convenient time and offering a service to collect valuable, recyclable waste on the return journey.

Also highlighted is the work being done through the project to engage with private and public sector organisations, as well as end users, to understand their main constraints for change and help influence their behaviour to adopt more efficient and sustainable practices.

By measuring the environmental impacts of the pilots and sharing the learning, LaMiLo said it will be able to achieve more efficient and coordinated freight deliveries, which, in turn, will translate into fewer trucks on our roads, reduced costs and better air quality.

Operators should monitor cycle superhighway 2 route during construction works

TfL is urging the use of alternative routes during peak times while construction work to upgrade cycle superhighway 2 (CS2) takes place in the capital.

The upgrade will create a fully and semi-segregated route between Aldgate and Bow roundabout, including 11 cycle-priority junctions installed, including at Aldgate, Mile End and Whitechapel.

A vast majority of the route will be separated with a kerb, which will keep cyclists away from road traffic. Where there is less space for kerbed segregation, cyclists will be separated from traffic by pioneering highly-visible traffic ‘wands’ – regularly spaced flexible poles that clearly define the cycle track.

TfL has begun ripping out the existing central reservations to make new space for traffic during these works and significant safety improvements at key junctions along Whitechapel Road and Mile End Road are also now underway.

The start of the upgrade work on CS2 kicks off a major build programme of new cycle routes across the capital this year, including the North-South and East-West “Crossrail for Bikes” routes, which the FTA warned last month were being rushed through before the full impact on traffic flow and deliveries had been assessed.

The full upgraded CS2 route is due for completion by spring 2016.

TfL said it will monitor the route 24 hours a day through its traffic control centre, however, drivers are strongly advised to plan alternative routes to avoid delays, particularly during peak travel times. Live traffic information is available at and on Twitter at @tfltrafficnews and @tflbusalerts.