business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Associated Press has a story this morning about how the City of Seattle, concerned about traffic congestion created by a plethora of e-commerce companies making deliveries to residences and offices, has "pledged $285,000 over the next three years to the UW's new Urban Freight Lab, which will test more efficient methods to deliver goods that are ordered online and delivered to large residential or retail and commercial buildings."

The fact is that just in the city of Seattle, some "170,000 truck trips are taken on the city's road network every day." It is going to get worse before it gets better, hence the decision to invest in research to help figure out how to alleviate some of the pressure.

According to the piece, "Metropolitan areas across the globe have been testing other ideas, such as using three-wheeled cargo bicycles or electric vans or setting time restrictions for commercial deliveries. In New York, a pilot project studying off-hour freight deliveries paid dozens of grocery stores and retailers to take deliveries between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. instead of normal business hours."

And, "UPS Inc. been trying out alternative methods in Europe, including using bikes in Brussels or tricycles and electric vehicles that make deliveries from four containers parked in Hamburg's city center. In the U.S., UPS has been signing up thousands of neighborhood stores to serve as secure drop-off or pickup locations. The service is designed to cut down on delivery trips, as well as potential package thefts."

While individual companies can adopt new processes to be more efficient and effective, the story says, the use of public streets and highways is something that only can be regulated via public policy. Which is why cities - and, I think, virtually every community - have to begin thinking about new challenges created by a new economy. Progressive companies will be part of the process.

It'll be an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: