Urban Freight and Road Safety: Trends and Innovative Strategies

R30: Urban Freight and Road Safety: Trends and Innovative Strategies

Research Team

Principal Investigator:
Noreen McDonald, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Co-Principal Investigator: 
Becky Naumann, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Christopher Cherry, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Offer Grembek, University of California, Berkeley

Funding Organization

Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety (CSCRS)


In this study we conducted a systematic review to identify last-mile delivery strategies and to determine how those strategies have been evaluated in the literature. We found 21 unique last-mile delivery strategies, assigning them to 4 meaningful categories –innovative vehicles, urban goods consolidation, technological and routing advancements in city logistics, and emerging planning tools and policies. Our analysis found that researchers had analyzed the impact of urban logistics strategies around four impact areas: operational, environmental, social, and economic considerations. We found 25 distinct evaluation criteria among these categories, six of which were high-order, or generalized criteria, and 19 of which were lower-order, or more specific criteria.

Of the 21 unique last-mile delivery strategies, the most common were urban consolidation centers (UCCs) and freight bicycles. UCCs were identified by 29 articles in the sample that we analyzed. A UCC is a facility for the transshipment of goods headed for urban areas to consolidate deliveries and increase efficiency of last-mile delivery. UCCs take many forms and have many close analogues, and this diversity is likely a contributing factor to the strategy’s prominence in the literature. Another frequently cited strategy is freight bicycles. Freight bicycles can take many forms as well, being either human-powered or assisted with an electric motor. This strategy was mentioned 24 times in the literature that we analyzed. Another often-mentioned strategy was collaborative logistics. Collaborative logistics involves communication and planning between separate logistics firms to trade last-mile delivery tasks in a mutually beneficial agreement. This strategy utilizes emerging communication technology and algorithms to improve efficiency in last-mile delivery.

Learn more about this project on the CSCRS website.