Freight Perspectives from Amsterdam

While in the Netherlands we had two different conversations about freight. The first was with Amsterdam city planners and is the focus of this post. The second was with a freight forwarder and a representative of the Holland International Distribution Council (a trade association) and will be covered in a later post.

In the dense urban environment in Amsterdam, planners have a number of goals for freight distribution:

– improve accessibility be reducing the number of vehicles
– reduce ‘delivery nuisance’ for residents and road users
– increase loading rates
– reduce vehicle kilometers (and therefore fuel use)
– net neutral effect on economic health

Some of the techniques for doing this:

– Require vehicles be at least 80% loaded before starting delivery trips
– Limit length of delivery vehicles to 10 meters
– Create age and environmental standards for vehicles

They report that it’s working, without negative impacts on the economy.

Amsterdam is developing additional concepts to streamline urban deliveries:

– A “city box”, a container that is one-third the size of a standard container, but can be bundled in triplets as a standard container for rail or sea shipments
– Neighborhood package delivery stations, where you can securely retrieve your package, avoiding the need for a delivery directly to your door
– Programs to cluster deliveries for nearby retailers (e.g., the drugstore and the hardware store get a consolidated delivery, avoiding extra delivery trips)


3 responses to “Freight Perspectives from Amsterdam”

  1. I wish the freight folks around here would see the light and embrace bikes as an alternative to street-clogging cars.

    Has the freight community ever considered making an effort to reduce the number of vehicles on the road? Seems obvious to me that it would help them move more stuff more efficiently…but then again I’m a biker so I’m biased against cars to begin with.

  2. Well, I heard a member of the Freight Committee say at JPACT this morning that in 15 years there wouldn’t be single occupancy vehicles as we know them today.

    But no, we haven’t been able to get the freight community to embrace TDM as a way to make room for more trucks. They seem intent on arguing for more lanes…

  3. Unfortunately the trucking community seems stuck in the past, refusing to recognize some basic facts, like that the last gas tax increase failed 88-12 and that existing revenues are insufficient even for maintaining what we already have.

    Another fact they ignore is that elected leaders must respond to the public and the public is increasingly leery of bigger roads and the impacts they have on their health and quality of life. If they were smart they would jump in and be part of coming up with new solutions instead of fiercely protecting their own turf (and trying to defeat any initiative that might challenge the way “business has always been done”)

    A curious connection is that many of the most vocal pro-freight voices are also behind the effort to repeal Portland’s new public election financing…

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