Chapter 1 The challenges of freight transport in cities
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Large cities are the economic engines of the global economy. They serve as logistics hubs in the global freight network, as well as the producers and consumers of most of the world’s goods and services. Urban freight activity is growing and will continue to grow as a result of continued globalization and urbanization, rising per capita income, and the growth of e-commerce. Cities are increasingly challenged to effectively manage freight demand and reduce its negative impacts. This chapter presents an overview of urban freight and its challenges. It describes the growth of urban freight and explains its causal factors. It discusses the state of knowledge regarding the major negative externalities associated with urban freight: congestion, air pollution, traffic safety, noise, and environmental justice. Urban freight is addressed as being of two types: last-mile activity serving local supply and demand, and trade node activity serving global trade and supply chains. The main driver of last-mile urban freight is the rise of e-commerce and its impacts on the structure of supply chains and delivery patterns. Global trade determines the volume and geographic distribution of international trade and metropolitan areas that serve as major nodes experience an additional layer of freight traffic. The chapter ends with some concluding observations.