Road transport is an enabler for economic and social life and one of the key sectors of EU, corresponding to at least 5% of the European Gross Value Added and employing around 10.3 million people1. Today, approximately 73 % of the total EU population lives in cities2, towns and suburbs and the share of the urban population continues to grow. This leads to an increase of economic activities and consequently of urban freight flows, driven also by megatrends such as globalisation, densification, ecommerce and on-demand logistics.

Urban logistics deliveries are one of the most complex and least efficient segments of freight transport, being responsible for a significant share of traffic congestion and emissions in EU cities. At same time, it is a fundamental service for citizens and comprises a substantial part of all commercial activities contributing to local economic development. Moreover, in the last years, cities have become increasingly concerned with the impact of urban logistics in terms of traffic, noise, pollution, land use, road accidents. With the European Green Deal (EGD)3 and the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy (SSMS)4, the EU is striving to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 90 % by 2050 (compared to 1990 level) delivered by a smart, competitive, safe, accessible and affordable transport system, as committed by the Climate Law5. The SSMS aims to make all modes of transport more sustainable by identifying specific actions such as Making interurban and urban mobility healthy and sustainable and Greening freight transport.

One way of achieving this is to provide well-organised, safe and environmentally friendly transport widely. To this purpose, Sustainable Urban Logistics Plans (SULP) are considered a crucial policy instrument to bring the freight dimension into more sustainable urban planning processes. Data collection is a crucial step for deriving solid insights about various factors influencing logistics actors’ choices: some cities regularly run travel surveys when defining Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, while others have run them only at irregular intervals. New technologies to collect information, such as mobile data, web questionnaires and smartphones apps, provide more precise results but still pose problems in terms of population coverage, data quality, response rates and privacy. Despite the growing interest raised by urban logistics in the public debate, the related knowledge in European cities is fragmented and data is not harmonised. This is due to a lack of systematic methodological approaches when it comes to data collection and subsequent analyses conducted, along with the reluctance of targeted operators to share information in a highly competitive and remunerative market.

This study describes the results of the survey undertaken in a selection of 21 EU greater cities, in the biggest urban agglomerations of 12 Member States plus UK. It focused on logistics operators providing delivery services (on own account or for third parties) and was carried out between April 2021 and February 2022. It aimed at understanding the trends and patterns of this logistic segment by means of specific indicators related to urban logistics. Two key points of this study are important to emphasize. Firstly, a systematic review of previous studies on urban logistics in the targeted cities was achieved. Secondly, a survey on urban logistics was carried out with an identical methodology in the selected cities. The targeted sample consisted of all freight deliveries by heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and light good vehicles (LGVs), owned or working on behalf of logistics companies, travelling in to, out of and within the boundaries of greater cities. To compute indicators, we followed the Eurostat guidelines on Passenger Mobility Statistics7, considered valid for urban logistics with regards to methodological aspects.

Access the full report here.

Source: European Commission