UK future of mobility: challenges in last mile urban freight

The UK Government Office for Science presented an evidence review exploring the trends in the UK last mile urban freight, and how users and technology interact with the changing system between now and 2040. It highlights the areas which will be most impacted by the coming changes.


Largely as a result of the growth in online shopping, the logistics industry will come under some specific pressures which will drive the changes outlined in the previous section. These challenges are:

  • Handling peak demand pressure
  • Satisfying ever more complex customer demands
  • Increasing demand for B2C and C2C deliveries
  • The scarcity of available logistics infrastructure
  • Loss of kerbside space for freight activity
  • Impacts of ‘free’ delivery
  • Managing increasing product returns
  • Handling failed first-time deliveries.

Policy decisions

In relation to the current and foreseen issues impacting on the efficiency of last-mile logistics, the key decisions that need to be made relate to:

  • Enabling local authorities to identify and safeguard key ‘zones’ to site potential freight facilities on-street (e.g. shared drop/ ‘wait-and-walk’ points for LGVs; micro-consolidation points). Careful thought will be needed to identify these, existing post sector locations could be used as a starting point.
  • Promoting and incentivising the use of the ‘carrier’s carrier’ approach for last-mile distribution where carriers hand over goods to another who may be better placed to make the final deliveries due to their location or their use of more sustainable vehicles.
  • Aiding and incentivizing the operation of multi-user freight consolidation centers to reduce the number of individual freight vehicle trips into urban centers and to drive the take-up of electric last-mile delivery (via ‘carrier’s carrier’ operations).
  • Harmonising loading/unloading regulations across boroughs and regions.
  • Developing mandatory reporting mechanisms to gather fleet operating data to better understand the sector (e.g. DfT re-commencing an on-going survey of national LGV operations).

The review was made by Tom Cherrett and Julian Allen. Download the full report here.

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