City logistics: a method to select the most important loading and unloading areas

Cities all around the world are observing increasing levels of urban freight activities owing to the growth of internet shopping combined with the traditional distribution to shops, creating additional problems in terms of congestions and environmental impacts.

A recent study, developed within the European Project SUITS framework, aims at showing how local authorities can effectively observe freight flows from the demand side. This led to the design, implementation, and testing of a spatial cluster analysis approach to understand which are the most important loading/unloading parking spots in an urban setting by processing the GPS traces of a fleet of logistic vehicles.

The spatial analysis and the field survey were tested with data from an Italian city (Turin) to assess the potential benefits of the methods. The methodology proposed can give useful insights to local authorities on a way of monitoring the freight distribution patterns at the more disaggregated individual loading/unloading area.

The survey results can be used by local authorities to:

  • Understand the effectiveness and impacts of delivering operations in key areas of the city
  • Assess the already available unload/load parking spots.
  • Understand which actions the local authorities should address to ameliorate urban freights policies at specific locations by looking at deliveries in a specific street and at the retailers and shops exploitation of express couriersservices.



Diana, M., Pirra, M., & Woodcock, A. (2020). Freight distribution in urban areas: a method to select the most important loading and unloading areas and a survey tool to investigate related demand patterns. European Transport Research Review, 12, 1-14.

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