Why is city logistics always missing in ‘artist impressions’ made by project developers?

Many new residential areas are in the urban planning pipeline. Vital neighborhoods with a good balance between working, living and relaxing. Attractive car-free neighborhoods where active, safe and healthy walking and cycling are the new standard.

The new residents should share electric cars, travel more often by public transport, and walk and cycle more. Project developers present beautiful artists impressions of these new residential areas. Cute young couples walking hand in hand. Grandpa is sitting on a bench and enjoying the children playing carefree on the street. And always the sun is shining. There is something missing in these pictures: the many delivery vans supplying the neighborhood. They magically disappeared.

City logistics in residential areas

In such a car-free residential area with, say, 3000 homes, 300 e-commerce parcels come every day with 6 to 10 delivery vans. With the growth of food ordered online, there are between 12 and 24 vehicles for online groceries every day (so we don’t have to go shopping by car anymore). Smart companies work with light electric vehicles or cargo bikes. For the others, zero emission is a ‘no-brainer’. Supermarkets, HoReCa and offices in these neighborhoods also receive 10 to 20 trucks every day. Waste? The same number of freight movements.

But, service vans of the plumber, heating engineer, painter, the Miele repairman, kitchen builders, and home care workers by far outnumber the delivery vans. Every day there are 100 to 150 service vans going into the car-free residential area. Where should they all park?
To make things worse, between 200 and 300 meal delivery drivers come between 6 and 9 pm. And, their number is growing. They are involved 6 times more often in an accident. Lock up your children! All those vehicles, scooters and delivery bikes are missing in the beautiful artist impressions.

Local neighborhood logistics is in a blind spot for urban planners. Project developers should present a mobility vision for low-traffic, healthy and vital residential areas. In neighborhood mobility, the list is simple: first walk, then space for bicycles, public transport and finally shared cars at the edge of the neighborhood. But, what should we do for local neighborhood logistics?


Ensure sufficient loading, unloading and parking options and safe routes for vans that really need to be in the neighborhood. Use vehicles that fit better with the size of the street, such as light electric vehicles and freight bicycles. And of course, all those vehicles are clean. Arrange smart (and unmanned) pick-up points where consumers and engineers who need to be in the neighborhood can pick up their packages. That can also be your neighbors in social delivery networks.

Are small hubs at the edge of the neighborhood useful for the transshipment of goods going into the neighborhood? Can waste collection be organized underground or over water? And, last but not least, online stores should offer consumers more choice with, for example, evening delivery, pick up points and lockers. It is a shame if the driver is standing in front of a closed door. All things that project developers often think about when it’s too late.

Walther Ploos van Amstel.

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