City Distribution and Urban Freight Transport

City Distribution and Urban Freight Transport

Multiple Perspectives

NECTAR Series on Transportation and Communications Networks Research

Edited by Cathy Macharis and Sandra Melo

City distribution plays a key role in supporting urban lifestyles, helping to serve and retain industrial and trading activities, and contributing to the competitiveness of regional industry. Despite these positive effects, it also generates negative (economic, environmental and social) impacts on cities worldwide. Relatively little attention has been paid to these issues by researchers and policymakers until recently. The analyses found in City Distribution and Urban Freight Transport aim to improve knowledge in this important area by recognizing and evaluating the problems, with a focus on urban freight transport systems.

Chapter 6: Definition of a Set of Indicators to Evaluate the Performance of Urban Goods Distribution Initiatives

Sandra Melo and Álvaro Costa

Subjects: environment, transport, geography, cities, urban and regional studies, cities, transport, urban studies


Sandra Melo and Álvaro Costa INTRODUCTION In the past, the topic of urban goods distribution (UGD), as well as the closely related subject of freight traffic, has been overlooked by researchers and planners. It has been treated mainly as a marginal issue of passenger traffic and usually studied in an inappropriate geographical scale, not taking into account the specificities of freight. However, during the last decade the negative impacts of UGD on the quality of life, mobility and attractiveness of cities have contributed to an increasing attempt to reverse this tendency. More research on this topic has been conducted and the primary key findings on the topic have been made. The tendency has been to look at solutions inspired by other perspectives already studied and analysed in more detail (e.g. passenger transport) and apply them to a new specific context (e.g. freight). In some situations, this procedure leads to alternative initiatives that could be seen as ‘good practice’ in supplying cities, based on the theoretical or empirical results its implementation would produce. These examples of ‘good practices’ in UGD initiatives, however, present heterogeneous methodologies of evaluation and diverse types of output indicators, making it unfeasible to extrapolate general lessons from them. This chapter, which arises from broader research on UGD, tries to contribute to defining an objective methodology for the study of the topic. It proposes that the perspectives of public and private stakeholders should be considered, given the specificities of the topic of freight and that of the local...

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