Urban Freight in Rethymno: Starting a SULP

In 2018, the City of Rethymno (Greece), a CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project city, started implementing actions to reduce congestion caused by freight vehicles and develop a Sustainable Urban Logistics Plan (SULP).

Together with logistics businesses, retail sector representatives, supermarkets, and various municipal departments, potential SULP measures have been identified and priorities set for SULP preparation.

Most stakeholders agreed to focus on reducing goods vehicle traffic on main roads leading into the city centre; improving the loading and unloading process by adding designated loading bays; and introducing new rules for access and unloading.

In 2018-2019, consultations are being held to refine these priorities and move towards decisions on SULP measures.

In Spring 2018, interviews and surveys were conducted and data collected on the delivery fleet, unloading operations, and goods vehicle traffic. The findings are in line with many other European cities: freight vehicles represent 16% of the total amount of vehicles entering the city centre.

However, the types of vehicle found in Rethymno's delivery fleet differ compared to other European towns. Motorcycles using boxes to transport goods occur more frequently (depending on time and location they comprise 4-25% of all freight vehicles). Small pick-up trucks are also the vehicles used most regularly for larger deliveries, such as construction materials.

In contrast, bigger lorries are mostly found in suburban areas and on motorways. Most long-distance goods transportation between Rethymno and other parts of Greece and Europe goes via the ports of Heraklion, Chania, and Piraeus.

All parties in Rethymno recognise the need to increase electric vehicle (EV) usage and reduce emissions. Yet there exist numerous barriers to doing so. These include an old delivery fleet; little funding to support EV purchases; high EV prices; few larger EVs being available on the market; and the absence of an electrified central (micro-) consolidation centre.

Crucial to achieving the desired improvements are the recent consultation and getting buy-in from industry and businesses for the municipality's proposed actions. Thankfully, initial reactions have been positive.

Read more about Rethymno's work in CIVITAS DESTINATIONS here.

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