A coalition of Southern California government organizations has released an in-depth report examining some of the deleterious impacts associated with last-mile freight transportation.
A primary purpose of the study is “to raise awareness of the complexities, costs, environmental impacts and local community impacts of that final stage of delivery,” said Steven Lambert, a spokesperson for the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the coalition that developed the Last-Mile Freight Study.
The next step is to work with local jurisdictions to come up with specific solutions they can incorporate into their planning processes, Lambert told FreightWaves.
By now most consumers and logistics experts are aware of the social, economic and environmental impacts associated with the final mile of delivery, from congestion and delays, to increased pollution and public safety concerns.
The impacts are especially significant in Los Angeles, the study’s target area, but the takeaways are relevant for most metro areas seeing a surge in the number of delivery vehicles on city streets.
The report’s key recommendations include:
Integrate last-mile freight issues into a goods movement forum.
Develop regional strategies for off-peak deliveries.
Update building and zoning codes to require loading space.
Convert on-street parking to loading areas where ample off-street parking is available.
Develop commercial-only alleys.
Restrict deliveries on certain streets.
Consider establishing delivery consolidation centers in underutilized parking lots.
Incentivize the use of clean-air vehicles for deliveries.
The study points to Southern California’s role as a global logistics and supply-chain hub, and notes the continued expansion of e-commerce fulfillment centers in Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire. SCAG has previously reported that one-third of all jobs and economic activity in the six counties are connected — directly or indirectly — to goods movement.
As the impacts of freight draw pushback from local communities in the Inland Empire, a largely private sector-driven effort is underway to create a Center for Logistics Excellence, according to Lambert.
The public-private partnership would bring together stakeholders in higher education, government and the private sector to think about how to create “new systems and processes to handle all this in a more sustainable way,” he said.
Similar collaborations have already been established in other parts of the country. The Urban Freight Lab in Seattle, for one, is a coalition of government and logistics partners and the University of Washington seeking to identify and deploy creative solutions to freight delivery.
The data collection and analysis for the Last-Mile Freight Study was conducted in 2018, but many of the trends have only become more pronounced as delivery has increased during the pandemic.