Revolutionising Urban Logistics Planning through SUMPs and SULPs

SUMP cycle

Image by Rupprecht Consult 2019

Through a comprehensive exploration of ULaaDS’ guidelines, methods, and policy recommendations, ULaaDS consortium members at Rupprecht Consult illuminate the path towards a more sustainable, efficient, and inclusive urban logistics system. The critical role of stakeholder engagement, technological innovation, data-driven approaches, and strategic planning in developing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) and Sustainable Urban Logistics Plans (SULPS) is particularly underlined.

In an era where decarbonising the transport sector is of paramount importance, urban logistics stands at a crossroads. Responsible for 40% of transport-related CO2 emissions and contributing to noise pollution that affects 100 million Europeans, the logistics sector is ripe for transformative solutions. Notably, about 30% of urban freight distances are covered by empty vehicles, highlighting a significant inefficiency in freight operations.

Drawing on the ULaaDS pilot in Bremen, cargo-bike sharing has emerged as a promising solution: Over the course of the project, 55% of cargo-bike trips replaced what would have been car journeys.

Recommendations for integrated SUMP & SULP implementation

The ULaaDS' report, "Guidelines, Methods & Policy Recommendations for Integrating ULaaDS into SUMP and SULP Processes," represents a thorough endeavour to seamlessly integrate eco-friendly logistics planning into SUMPs and SULPs. The report aligns with the global movement towards advancing SUMPs and SULPs in cities and regions, emphasising enhancements in public transport, the promotion of sustainable mobility modes, and the optimisation of urban freight to enhance urban living and achieve sustainability objectives.

SULP planning follows four phases:

  1. Inception phase: Policymakers deliberately make a choice to develop a SULP within a defined urban region, as a result of an in-depth analysis of the current mobility situation, assessment of financial and institutional capabilities, and identification of mobility issues. This phase involves establishing a functional management structure and initiating a capacity-building initiative.
  2. Vision and Strategy Development phase: The future urban mobility landscape is shaped based on analysis findings. This includes the crafting of a clear vision and strategy, in collaboration with stakeholders. During this phase, various scenarios are evaluated, aligning with the SULP vision, and the selected scenario is refined for short and long-term implementation.
  3. Operational Planning phase: The chosen scenario is translated into actionable measures, with detailed monitoring mechanisms. As financial aspects are crucial, a financial mechanism is developed, funding sources identified, and financial flows for the entire SULP defined. This phase prepares the SULP for submission to the relevant political body for approval.
  4. Implementation and Monitoring stage: The focus during this phase is on executing the approved SULP measures and establishing a system of continuous monitoring, evaluation, and communication. The plan is handed over to sectoral planning departments for implementation according to local and national regulations. It is crucial to have a monitoring system in place to ensure the successful execution and adaptive management of the SULP.

An analytical approach was adopted in the above-mentioned report to explore strategic methodologies within SUMPs and SULPs, recognising them as essential tools for green urban logistics planning. The focus extended to governance structures, regulatory support for SUMP and SULP integration, and strategic engagement with diverse logistics stakeholders, laying the foundation to translate early-phase analyses into actionable urban logistics strategies.

These strategies, based on international experience and insights from the ULaaDS pilots, have identified key facilitators and barriers. Thus, they established the groundwork for the development of policy guidelines aimed at improving urban logistics through SULPs.

Setting the scene for urban logistics implementation through SULPs

A summary of recommendations from the report is presented below.

- Fostering flexibility and resilience in dynamic urban logistics                                                                                                                    Flexibility and resilience in urban logistics are crucial, given the ever-evolving nature of the field and its deep connection with technological advances. They emphasise the ability to adapt swiftly to challenges and evolving demands.  Furthermore, embracing SULP as a vital and evolving strategy is essential for ensuring adaptability to a changing landscape. A SULP should serve as living document, empowering cities to navigate changes effectively and ensuring the agility of the logistics system. For instance, learnings related to the vulnerabilities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the need for resilience in urban logistics. In this manner, considering a SULP as a framework document that facilitates rapid adjustments to crises and community demands is fundamental to ensuring adaptability in the face of unforeseen challenges.

- Inclusive stakeholder engagement                                                                                                                                                                     Effective stakeholder engagement is crucial for sustainable urban logistics planning, as shown in the figure above. The use of tools, like local stakeholder forums, collaborative target-setting mechanisms, and online surveys, fosters collective decision-making and information sharing. Inclusive engagement serves several crucial purposes, namely to fine-tune logistics projects based on on-the-ground feedback, ensure sustainability, and build trust among stakeholders. Collaboration with businesses further tailors SULPs to meet economically diverse logistical needs, enhancing overall effectiveness and viability.

- Encouraging technological innovation and data-driven approaches                                                                                                    Encouraging innovation as well as technological and data-driven approaches in urban logistics involves embracing ongoing advances, such as small electric vehicles and automated vehicles, and exploring the feasibility of air mobility through drones. SULPs should promote agile and prepared urban logistics operations, which are able to evolve with technological changes. According to a survey carried out at ULaaDS' final event, the innovations expected to have the greatest impact on urban logistics in the next decade include AIautomationrobotsdata, and logistics hubs, highlighting the strategic importance of these advances in shaping the future of urban logistics.

- Optimised space allocation and regulation                                                                                                                                                           The interplay between space allocation and regulations is pivotal for ensuring efficient and unintrusive urban logistics operations. Establishing a fair regulatory framework that cultivates trust and collaboration within the industry is a fundamental aspect of this process. Effective management of urban logistics operations with a sensible use of urban areas such as logistics hubs, storage facilities, and designated loading zones requires the enforcement of regulations. This includes thorough monitoring and timely evaluations to ensure optimal management. This approach aims to reduce congestion, optimise urban space, and streamline logistical processes. Careful monitoring and substantial fines restrict unauthorised zone use, promoting compliance and safeguarding the integrity of the logistics network, as well as the overall liveability of urban areas.

- Ensuring fair competition in logistics                                                                                                                                                                Given the competitive and profitable aspect in logistics business and operations, it is essential to concentrate privileges in the hands of a single operator, since unchecked dominance can stifle innovation and impede new entrants into the market. The strategy involves creating a level playing field where both SMEs and established industry players can compete on equal terms. Effective regulation, coupled with thorough monitoring and timely evaluations, is crucial in maintaining a fair and competitive marketplace that benefits both industry players and consumers. Striking a delicate balance between preventing anti-competitive practices and fostering innovation is essential for the sustainable growth and development of the logistics industry.

- Learning processes: trial-first approach                                                                                                                                                                The “trial-first” approach has proven successful in ULaaDS, which was able to draws lessons from both successful and challenging trials. This methodology encourages cities to embrace experimentation with innovative logistics concepts, prioritising practical trials as a foundation prior to launching long-term fixed projects. Through real-world trials, cities acquire invaluable insights into the effectiveness, challenges, and potential benefits of diverse logistics models. The data gleaned from these trials becomes a cornerstone in shaping SULPs, ensuring that policies are not abstract constructs but finely adjusted to the unique needs and dynamics of each urban environment.

To delve further into the comprehensive guidelines and recommendations to seamlessly integrate eco-friendly logistics planning into SUMPs and SULPs, please check out the ‘Guidelines, methods & policy recommendations to integrate ULaaDS in SUMP and SULP processes' report.

Read the full article on the ULaaDS website.

Authors: Hassan Hussin, Dr. Susanne Boehler-Baedeker, Katy Huaylla, Goekce Demiral



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