University of Washington gets SDOT funding

The University of Washington has announced that its Urban Freight Laboratory is to work with industry as well as the Seattle Department for Transportation (SDOT) to seek solutions to the challenges of urban goods delivery.

An article posted on the UW website says that the Urban Freight Lab will “investigate high-impact, low-cost solutions for businesses delivering goods in urban settings and cities trying to manage limited curb and parking space where delivery trucks, bicycles, pedestrians and cars all need to coexist”.

Part of the University of Washington’s Supply Chain and Logistics Centre (SCTL) the Urban Freight Lab aims to bring together retailers, carriers, technology companies and transportation and urban planners. Founding industry members include Costco, Nordstrom and UPS.

Anne Goodchild, who is civil and environmental engineering associate professor at UW and director of the SCTL, commented: “Some of the changes brought about by the rise in e-commerce have the potential to reduce costs and carbon dioxide and improve livability, but we need better planning and exchange to ensure these opportunities are harnessed.

“Seattle is a great location for this living laboratory because we have urban growth, geographic constraints and profound behavioral changes in the way people are buying things they need for daily life.”

The SDOT has funded the Urban Freight Lab with US$285,000 over three years, that, according to the University of Washington, “may grow over time”.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly said: “From the first mile to the last fifty feet, freight delivery is changing. For big trucks coming out of the Port of Seattle and small trucks delivering to people’s homes and businesses, this joint project will address the rapidly evolving world of freight movement.”

The Urban Freight Lab will focus initially on the “last fifty feet” of the delivery – the last leg of the journey where the driver has to get the parcel from the vehicle to its final drop-off point.

“The problems where we can be of most value occur where a private company has to use public space or share public space – they can’t control that,” said Goodchild. “The ‘final 50 feet’ highlights the challenge of coordinating across numerous, diverse stakeholders. It’s a problem that isn’t going to solve itself and no one can solve independently.”
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