VREF - Conference 2016: views, insights and intense discussions on urban freight

​Three days of intense discussions on how to share urban space was on the agenda at the 2016 VREF-Conference in October.
- It was very valuable to bring people together from so many countries and different cities. Sharing ideas and seeing where there are common solutions was very evident at the conference, says professor Michael Browne.
When more liveable cities are created, the need to consider all infrastructure users increases. This was the overall topic of the VREF-conference, discussed by leading city logistic researchers from all over the world.
 The Urban Freight Platform, a joint initiative between Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg, organized the conference, that had more than 140 participants.
Michael Browne, professor at the University of Gothenburg, was happy to see so much energy among those attending.
- There was a great balance of participants from research, business and city policy-making. The need to really increase our understanding of the challenges for urban freight in a time of so much change came across very strongly, he says.

Urban freight in New York - a challenge

One of the speakers of the conference was Alison Conway, City College of New York. She talked about the tough conditions for freight operations in New York, the largest and most densely populated city in the US.
The challenges of urban freight in the area are handled in different ways - with various results. For example, there are dedicated truck networks, variable bridge and tunnel policies, and it is legal for freight vehicles to double park in moving lanes for a short time.
Alison´s research focuses on how to design multi-modal streets with recognition for freight space needs. According to her, improvements are on the way.
- Things do appear to be changing, as we see increased investment in freight planning, she says.
 Her fellow-countryman Richard Barone, Regional Plan Association New York, RPA, emphasized the need to point out to the public as well as to politicians why goods movement matters.
- Cities cannot survive without an effective urban goods movement system. But urban freight doesn´t get the attention it should, and that´s something we want to change, he says.

"Urban freight doesn´t get the attention it should, and that´s something we want to change"

Kerstin Alquist, City of Stockholm, presented an example on how city planners in the capital of Sweden work with sustainable transports. In the residential area Södra Värtan, in the Royal Seaport of Stockholm, a mobility index is being used to describe different mobility measures. The index will help the planning of properties towards more sustainable transports.
- This is not scientific, but it is a tool for speaking about sustainable measures, she says.
Anders Berger, Volvo Group Truck Technology, talked about the importance of automation, digitalization and connectivity of freight transport to be able to better share urban space.
- We also need to move freight activity away from where people are, and focus on off-peak deliveries, he says.
Anders Berger addressed the issue of trucks and vans being perceived negatively, while buses and other modes of traffic aren´t. When the public doesn´t see the benefit of freight transport it´s difficult to implement the infrastructure for it.
He added, with a smile:
- I guess people vote, freight doesn´t.

Gothenburg shows leadership in urban freight research

Apart from several international speakers and speakers from Stockholm there were many researchers and business representatives from Gothenburg at the conference. Professor Michael Browne points out that the city of Gothenburg, where the conference took place, is showing leadership in the urban freight research - field.
- There are many research projects in Gothenburg where researchers of the Urban Freight Platform are working with the city as well as with companies based in the city and region.
- The presentations at the VREF-conference made by representatives of the City of Gothenburg, and the active participation of companies and organizations from the city and the region, was great to see - and they contributed a lot, he says.
Text: Ulrika Ernström



•   The VREF-conference 2016 (17-19 October) was arranged by the Urban Freight Platform; a joint initiative between Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg, and supported by VREF, Volvo Research and Educational Foundations.
•   Some of the speakers of the conference: Eiichi Taniguchi, Kyoto University, Genevieve Giuliano, University of Southern California/VREF CoE Metrofreight, Ian Wainwright, Transport for London, Kerstin Alquist, City of Stockholm, Anders Berger and Fredrik Cederstav, Volvo Group Truck Technology, Anna Dubois, Chalmers, Stefan Eglinger, City of Gothenburg.


•   Sönke Behrends (Chalmers) and Elisabeth Karlsson (University of Gothenburg) are involved in the DenCity project led by Closer and involving the city of Gothenburg. Objective: to identify how sustainable urban mobility for both people and goods can be provided in an area with limited space for vehicles. The project will use Frihamnen in Gothenburg as a case study.
•   Ivan Sanchez-Diaz and Sönke Behrends  (Chalmers) are involved in the project Sub-urban logistics - more efficient use of infrastructure - led by Closer
•   Michael Browne (University of Gothenburg) and Dan Andresson (Chalmers) contribute to the project 'SEVS phase 3 “SEVS for Autonomous Drive (AD)', led by SAFER. The SEVS for AD aims at developing a method to measure the social impact of various types of automated transport solutions, in order to verify that the concepts and technologies developed within Drive Sweden contributes to the Swedish transport policy objectives.

Page manager Published: Tue 03 Jan 2017.