Since the 1996 French law LAURE, which made it mandatory to include a freight transport policy strategy in urban travel plans, local authorities are expected to regulate and plan freight transport within their territory, using urban planning tools at their disposal.
The objective of recent research by Adeline Heitz and Laetitia Dablanc was to identify current freight planning and policies in France, using twenty French cities which they examined in detail through data collection and interviews. The research was focused on the regulations and planning instruments. The researchers conducted a systematic analysis of local traffic and parking ordinances and local zoning plans in the twenty urban areas. The objective was to observe how municipalities actually regulate and plan urban freight.
The researchers interviewed local decision-makers to analyze challenges in conducting an urban freight policy. They conclude their research by mentioning that regulatory instruments such as local ordinances are routinely used, more so than planning instruments such as zoning plans, although a new planning policy is emerging. Also, it seems that differences in urban freight policies cannot be explained by differences in the ‘logistics profile’ of one city compared with another. Urban freight policies depend more on the type and level of commitment of individual elected officials and local decision-makers.
Finally, the researchers identified French cities’ specific patterns in terms of urban freight policies compared with other European ones: less reliance on low emission zones, high fragmentation of local municipal truck and van regulations within metropolitan areas, and some innovative planning and zoning regulations related to a new niche of urban warehouses for city logistics.