The role of Business Improvement Districts in sustainable urban freight

A paper by Brettmo and Browne explores the ways in which Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) can promote initiatives that lead to more sustainable urban goods movements in urban areas. They studied eight BIDs in three cities and in the UK, US, and Sweden. All the BIDs studied had considered or taken actions related to urban freight and sustainability.

The results show that BIDs in different countries have similarities and differences in their organizational structure and functions, the main services provided, and readiness to promote initiatives related to urban freight improvements.
They identified that differences in their accomplishments relate to their motivation, awareness of the scope to influence urban freight, and the extent of their collaboration with local and city authorities concerning urban freight initiatives. In general, they suggest that BIDs have the potential to act as important influencers in urban freight. BIDs unite the receivers and encourage them to address joint operations that bring economic and environmental benefits give the receivers the possibility to implement changes through the power of collective action to facilitate dialogue and collaboration with local and city authorities.

As a result, Brettmo and Browne suggest that the measures directed to BIDs on improving urban freight can have much more significant return on time and funds invested than if invested in single businesses and organizations. Their recommendation to BIDs that would like to reach a higher level of accomplishment is to ensure stakeholder engagement including engaging and collaboration with local authorities and to demonstrate their willingness to take a lead.

BIDs are an example of organizations that have not always been considered as stakeholders in urban freight: they are neither goods senders nor goods receivers, nor policymakers and rule setters in common sense. But they can set the example to businesses about how to do things in a more environmentally sustainable way, they can influence how businesses can rearrange some part of their activities or their delivery setups, without changing their businesses dramatically.

Source: Brettmo, A., & Browne, M. (2020). Business Improvement Districts as important influencers for changing to sustainable urban freight. Cities, 97, 102558.

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