​VREF Conference 2016: The challenges of sharing urban space

Leading city logistic researchers from all over the world soon gather in Gothenburg, during the 2016 VREF conference on Urban Freight. The goal: to learn from the best practices, and discuss the many challenges that need to be overcome to make denser cities work for everyone.
​Poor air quality, congestion and traffic noise. Many cities have been over-reliant on car use, leading to numerous problems as a result. To overcome these problems, we need to find a new approach.
And times are changing.
Sönke Behrends, PhD at Chalmers and one of the organizers of the VREF-conference, describes an ongoing paradigm shift in city planning:
 
- Now we are building cities for people again. There is a focus on creating denser cities, taking away space from cars and giving it to pedestrians, bicycle lanes and green areas, he says.

"We end up in a situation where we plan for city areas that are more or less car free, but at the same time home delivery traffic is increasing. Unless we solve this problem we can´t achieve the cities that we want"

Sönke Behrends, Chalmers


The current development in Gothenburg, a city growing at a fast pace, is a clear example.
- Gothenburg is becoming denser at a fast speed. We are actually building a city the size of Uppsala and putting it into Gothenburg – without adding more space for cars, he says.
 
Change and innovation is required. "We need to incorporate logistics into city planning, and that requires interaction between the public planners, the transport industry and the consumers", says Sönke Behrends.
 
The aim of the shift in city planning is to create cities with a higher quality of life for its inhabitants. However, there are complications.
At the same time as the urban areas develop constraints for cars and transport operators, the challenges of an increasing e-commerce emerge.
 
- When people purchase over the internet, there will be a growing number of delivery trucks and vans in urban areas. So, we end up in a situation where we plan for city areas that are more or less car free, but at the same time home delivery traffic is increasing. Unless we solve this problem we can´t achieve the cities that we want, says Sönke Behrends.
 
Finding smart solutions for sharing urban space requires change and innovation. The VREF-Conference on Urban Freight presents an opportunity for researchers and practitioners from the public as well as the private sector to learn from each other, share perspectives and discuss the complexity of freight transport in cities.
Some of the world´s leading urban freight researchers will attend the three conference days in October.
 
- The interest for urban freight questions has grown in recent years. We need to incorporate logistics into city planning, and that requires interaction between the public planners, the transport industry and the consumers. The conference will bring these actors together, and hopefully increase the awareness of each other’s perspectives on the issue, says Sönke Behrends.
 

"Research in the area of goods movement is in its infancy, and the problems experienced by those providing logistics services in urban areas are not well understood"

Henrik Nolmark, VREF

 
Henrik Nolmark, the administrative director of VREF, also emphasizes the importance of the conference.
- Urban logistics is a challenge today, and it will be far more challenging in the future, with growing demand for the delivery of goods and services, and intense competition for street space amongst cars, vans, public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.

- Research in the area of goods movement is in its infancy, and the problems experienced by those providing logistics services in urban areas are not well understood. Transportation professionals, urban planners and policy-makers lack comprehensive understanding, robust data and common terminologies, all of which have major implications for the management of individual urban freight systems as well as the larger global freight network, he says.
 
Text: Ulrika Ernström

FACTS ABOUT THE VREF-CONFERENCE 2016: 


  • More than 140 participants will attend the VREF-conference 2016, that takes place 17-19 October in Gothenburg. The theme is ”Plan for the future – sharing urban space”.
  • The conference is arranged by the Urban Freight Platform initiative, and supported by VREF, Volvo Research and Educational Foundations.
  • The Urban Freight Platform works as a facilitator of academic research on urban freight, within the context of the logistics competence center Northern LEAD at University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology.
  • Some of the speakers of the conference are: José Holguín-Veras, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, RPI, 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, Volvo Group Truck Technology.
  • The conference will be moderated by Michael Browne, University of Gothenburg and Maria Lindholm, CLOSER


MORE INFORMATION: 


The conference hashtag will be #sharingurbanspace


The program of the VREF-Conference 2016

Urban Freight Platform

VREF- Volvo research and educational foundations



Published: Wed 04 Jan 2017.