Bringing the goods to the people: efficient and sustainable delivery in and around the city


18 May
16:30 to 18:00
Hall 3, Level +1


- The session focused on challenges and opportunities for addressing the flow of goods feeding the cities. 

- Claudia Adriazola-Steil started by stating that freight is critical for our lives and our economy but is also the cause of many urban road casualties and carbon emissions. We should think more about how to manage deliveries at the city level.

- Adopting an infrastructure and connectivity perspective, Patrick Malléjacq highlighted that urban freight should not only rely on investing in roads but should be based on an integrated approach to planning warehouse location and land use development planning. 

- Jos Sluijsmans then considered the role of new transport modes in increasing safety while reducing congestion and emissions. Cycling and cargo bikes are key modal solutions: they circulate at a lower absolute speed but higher operational speed than most other modes in cities, increasing efficiency while reducing safety issues. Cargo bikes also require less infrastructure. While not every good can be transported by cargo bike, about half of these goods could be transported by cargo bikes instead of bigger, more polluting and dangerous delivery vans.

- From a practical and business perspective, Kevin Kviblad insisted on the importance of having companies put societal purpose alongside business objectives. Urb-it is an example of such a setting, promoting sustainable last-mile urban deliveries with clean transport modes, relying principally on a fleet of cargo bikes. He also stated that urban deliveries by cargo bikes are 60% quicker than van-based ones thanks to avoided congestion. 

- Panellists then addressed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the world was suffering a wide-scale crisis, freight kept moving but it was not a given and we must learn from the crisis. We should better prepare ourselves by bringing more flexibility to the system and its regulatory framework, and have emergency plans ready. During the pandemic, e-commerce surged and quick urban deliveries have become the norm. However, this consumption behaviour has a substantial impact on the delivery workforce. Delivery prices are low, with very low margins available for delivery workers. Typically, underpaid immigrant workers risking their lives to meet quick delivery targets make bike deliveries. The panel compared this situation to “slavery”.

- This unsustainable and inhuman system could be tackled by forbidding free deliveries by retailers and communicating on the impacts of such delivery practices. We should be conscious and pay the real price of quick delivery.

- A number of policy initiatives were proposed for improving the delivery of goods in cities, starting with establishing fair and clear goals and providing support for the adoption of sustainable behaviour for companies. Implementing zero-emission zones, covering the whole city, developing the cycling network and improving street design were all recommended. Reducing empty trips with digitalisation and co-operation among stakeholders to consolidate loads was seen as essential. Cities should also set up freight and logistics departments to plan the development and maintenance of assets, including logistics hubs. And it is essential to support households adopt more sustainable consumption patterns. All the panellists supported the development of licenses for urban delivery companies with minimum wages and employment conditions. 

- Climate change is a reality that is happening now; we must act strongly to decarbonise urban freight now by reducing demand and transporting goods by clean modes. This action must come from all the stakeholders, from individuals to companies and governments.



Kevin Kviblad



Claudia Adriazola-Steil

Global Urban Mobility Acting Director & Global Health & Road Safety Program Director

World Resources Institute (WRI)

Patrick Malléjacq

Secretary General

PIARC (World Road Association)

Jos Sluijsmans


International Cargo Bike Festival (ICBF) and Fietsdiensten.nl

Bringing the goods to the people: efficient and sustainable delivery in and around the city