Worldwide innovations in urban logistics – the SUGAR project

Science topics June 2013 CityTransport

Laetitia Dablanc, Director of research - AME Department, SPLOTT Laboratory

The september 18, 2017 Update



Between 2009 and 2012, IFSTTAR took part in the European INTERREG project with regard to innovative policies for urban freight. This project, which went by the name of SUGAR (Sustainable Urban Goods logistics Achieved by Regional and local policies) brought together local and regional authorities from all over Europe. IFSTTAR was the only academic body in the consortium and acted as its scientific guarantor. The project focused on the transmission of knowledge and good practice: between research and practice, and between cities that are « experienced » in urban freight and others that are « learning ».
Apart from IFSTTAR, 17 partners from 10 European countries were grouped together within « good practice sites », « knowledge transmission sites » and technical partners.
The transmission of good practices enabled the researchers to identify innovations in urban logistics that are taking place all over the world. Here are four examples:



The London “Low Emission Zone” (LEZ)

In 2008, an environmental zone was created in the centre of London in which heavy vehicles of less than Euro IV1 were banned. This 1,580 km² zone covered the entire area enclosed by the M25 orbital motorway, i.e. most of the London conurbation. Since January 2012, vans with a GVWR2 of over 1.205 tonnes (non Euro III) have also been banned from Greater London.
Between 2008 and 2011, the number of Euro II, I and 0 HGVs (that have not had a retrofit3) has fallen from 20% of the HGVs in London before the introduction of the LEZ to almost none now. More precisely, Transport for London (TfL) has stated that the new regulation has resulted in an annual emissions reduction of 28 tonnes of PM104, 26 tonnes of PM2,5 and 529 tonnes of NOx5 (TfL, 2010, data calculated for the year 2008), which represents 3.6% of road traffic emissions is the case of PM10, 3.7% for the PM2.5, and 2% for NOx.
« Recent measurements suggest that London will probably meet the European maximum values for PM10 in 2011, and the LEZ will have played an important role in this success » (Transport for London, 2010).
On the other hand, concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) have not fallen − the annual concentration in London in 2009 was the same as in 2004. According to TfL, this could be due to primary NO2 emissions from new diesel vehicles fitted with a PM10 abatement system.



The urban distribution centre in Motomachi in Japan

Motomachi is an up-market shopping district in central Yokohama, south of Tokyo. Since 2007, a joint delivery system handles 85% of deliveries to the zone’s shops. The remaining 15% consist of fresh products, furniture or deliveries that are carried out in-house by large stores.
Three natural gas-powered trucks make the delivery rounds, leaving from a hub located 300 metres from the pedestrian zone they deliver to. The transport undertakings that use the delivery centre pay 150 yens (€1.45) per delivered package.
Use of the Motomachi joint delivery system is voluntary and it has not received any aid from the municipality for its development. It is essentially a local initiative on the part of the association of shopkeepers. Setting up the project required more than seven years of negotiations between the partners, and it is now firmly established and well accepted. Each year the association of shopkeepers pays an equilibrium subsidy.


Electric delivery bikes in major city centres

Delivery vehicles of a new type are currently operating in the central districts of London, Milan and Paris. These are electric delivery tricycles with fairly large carriers (between 1 and 1.5 m² that are able to carry a payload of 180 kg). La Petite Reine6, a French firm that designs and sells vehicles of this type to other operators has for some time been one of the principal suppliers of electric tricycles. About ten firms are currently using delivery tricycles in Europe’s major cities. Some of them are very large firms (Office Depot in London, FedEx and TNT in Paris) and others are small start-ups (The Green Link, La Petite Reine), which mainly operate as subcontractors for the former. For example, The Green Link makes some deliveries for TNT and FedEx in central Paris.



Underground logistics bases in Paris

New « urban logistics spaces » have arrived in cities. These experiments are at the moment mainly confined to Paris, but they are beginning to appear in some provincial cities. After issuing a call for tender, the local authority provides, for a modest rent, a space of between 600 and 1000 m² in a municipal car park which is managed by a concessionary. In return, the holder of the contract undertakes to use only clean vehicles (electric or gas-powered vans, electrically-assisted tricycles). There are five such underground logistical spaces in Paris, one of which is operated by Chronopost (under Place de la Concorde) and another by UrbanCab (Pyramides). These underground bases are supplied once or twice a day by vehicles which although fairly large can still access the underground car parks because of their low trailer height. Environmentally speaking, this type of organisation is extremely beneficial, not only because of the mode of traction but also because of the reorganisation of the logistics of the distribution chain. This first wave of underground bases were joined by a 2,000 m² logistics space in the Beaugrenelle shopping centre area, managed by Sogaris, and a few logistics bases located at various points in the capital that are implemented by Distripolis to achieve a clean urban delivery system designed by Géodis (a member of the SNCF group) for its parcel deliveries.


1 European Emissions Standard Wikipédia
2 Gross Vehicle Weight Rating Wikipédia
3 Retrofit is the replacement of old or obsolete components by more recent ones performing the same function.
4 Particulate matter Wikipédia
5 Oxides of nitrogen.
6 This was an independent company when it was set up in Paris in 2001. Now it operates in a partnership with Star’ Services and ARES, an association for economic and social integration. La Petite Reine has developed a vehicle which it currently markets under the name of Cargo-Cycle. It is used by a large number of other firms providing tricycle delivery services.



The final publication of the SUGAR project, co-ordinated by Ifsttar, "City Logistics Best Practices: a Handbook for Authorities" has been widely distributed in Europe. It is available online as well as in hard copy on request from Laetitia Dablanc. This book brings together, in a very pedagogical and illustrated way, some fifty urban logistics experiments carried out in Europe and in the world and evaluates the results, the successes and the difficulties.