The city of Umeå, in northern Sweden, has developed its first integrated freight plan for the city centre. With a population of around 85 000, Umeå is the largest urban community in northern Sweden. Due to a fast-growing population and the boom of e-commerce, the city centre has been facing increasing traffic problems linked with the delivery of goods and services. A clear strategy for sustainable urban freight in the city centre was therefore essential.
The concerns around air quality in the city centre prompted Umeå to join URBACT, the EU-backed exchange and learning platform for territorial cooperation. Through the URBACT's Freight TAILS network, Umeå cooperated with other European cities over two years and gathered good practices in the field of sustainable urban freight. This resulted in the development of the integrated freight plan.
As part of the plan, the city centre's loading bays will soon be monitored to help decide on their future location. Future actions include the introduction of procurement requirements to promote quiet, energy-efficient transport for urban deliveries and improvements for restricted zone deliveries. The measures involve different municipal departments, from urban planning and procurement to environment and health protection, as well as shop owners, delivery companies and the municipality’s own waste and water company.
The indicators included in the freight plan will measure the number of delivery vehicles in selected streets, road fatalities and injuries caused by freight vehicles and the proportion of heavy vehicles respecting environmental zone regulations.
The city has brought together relevant stakeholders in a Local Group and has identified their main freight challenges. These included dangerous on-street loading and unloading, air and noise pollution, unregulated delivery traffic and complex waste collection. The municipality has produced a status report, which formed the basis of the new freight programme that is also in line with the city’s wider development strategies.
In the past, the apparently conflicting interests of residents, suppliers, businesses and other stakeholders had hindered the possibility to plan for the future of freight in Umeå. The new plan, which has received full backing from the City Council, will improve stakeholder cooperation and simplify decision-making on freight issues.
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