Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
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Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Jennifer Symoun and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is Freight Movements in Complete Streets Settings. Before I go any further, I do want to let those of you who are calling into the teleconference for the audio know that you need to mute your computer speakers or else you will be hearing your audio over the computer as well.
Today we'll have two presenters, Peter Plumeau of RSG and Chris Steele of Investment Consulting Associates. We will also have some brief concluding remarks given by Barbara McCann, Director of the Office of Safety, Energy, and Environment in the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Secretary.
Peter Plumeau, a Senior Director with RSG, Inc., specializes in working with public and private officials to facilitate and plan improvements to goods movement infrastructure and operations in urban settings. He focuses on developing strategies, policies and plans for harmonizing goods movement, person movement, urban design and growth management in small and large communities. He recently completed development of a Goods Movement Network Strategy for the fast-growing Region of Peel, Ontario, which encompasses Canada's largest concentration of logistics and distribution activity. He is also a co-author of two recent TRB publications: NCFRP 14, Guidebook on Urban Goods Movement, and NCFRP 13, Guide for Local Officials on Freight Facility Location Selection.
Chris Steele is President, North America for Investment Consulting Associates. His over 20 years of experience in location consulting, site selection, and economic development have resulted in a unique perspective on how the concept of place impacts business and community success around the globe. Moreover, his experience in diverse industries, service areas, and countries has given him the ability to build networks that cover a wide variety of client needs.
Barbara McCann recently joined the US Department of Transportation in the Office of the Secretary as the Director of the Office of Safety, Energy, and Environment. The office initiates and coordinates Secretarial policies on safety, environment and energy issues affecting all aspects of transportation. Prior to coming to DOT, McCann served as the founding Executive Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, working with groups from AARP to the YMCA to develop and advance the adoption of policies to make streets safe for all users. In 2013 Island Press published her book, Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks. It tells the stories of transportation practitioners and agencies that have succeeded in expanding their project delivery systems to produce multi-modal projects.
Today's seminar will last 90 minutes, with 60 minutes allocated for the speakers, and the final 30 minutes for audience Question and Answer. If during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the chat area. Please make sure you send your question to "Everyone" and indicate which presenter your question is for. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will start off the question and answer session with the questions typed into the chat box. If we run out of time and are unable to address all questions we will attempt to get written responses from the presenters to the unanswered questions.
The PowerPoint presentations used during the seminar are available for download from the file download box in the lower right corner of your screen. The presentations will also be available online within the next few weeks, along with a recording and a transcript. I will notify all attendees once these materials are posted online.
Talking Freight seminars are eligible for 1.5 certification maintenance credits for AICP members. In order to obtain credit for today's seminar, you must have logged in with your first and last name or if you are attending with a group of people you must type your first and last name into the chat box. I have included more detailed instructions in the file share box on how to obtain your credits after the seminar. Today's webinar is not yet available on the AICP web site but I will send out a notice once it is.
For those of you who are not AICP members but would like to receive PDH credits for this webinar, please note that FHWA does not formally offer PDHs, however, it may be possible to receive PDHs for your participation in Talking Freight if you are able to self-certify. To possibly receive PDHs, please download the agenda from the file download box and submit this agenda to your respective licensing agency.
Finally, I encourage everyone to please also download the evaluation form from the file share box and submit this form to me after you have filled it out. We'll now go ahead and get started with our first presentation, given by Peter Plumeau of RSG, Inc.
Jennifer, thank you. And thank you everyone for joining us today. I will first say, by way of disclaimer, that I have come down with a really bad head cold in the last couple of days. If I sound horse or my voice is fading in and out, I apologize in advance. I'm hopeful I can get through this.
What I will talk about today is the title of the overall session. It relates to the concept of integrating or matching complete streets and good movements. So the first slide after the title, regarding the concept of harmonization, is something that some of you who are involved in freight planning might be familiar with. Essentially, this is a concept that I feel is very important for planners, decision makers and policy makers to understand. The idea of harmonizing the way a system user interacts and behaves, on the transportation system, the freight movement, motorized and non-motorized and so forth. The idea is that there is a system that everyone who needs to use, can use. I would like us to keep this concept in mind as we continue talking here.
Now, a little background so we are on the same page. Goods movement, or freight movement, really entails anything that you buy or use, the food you eat, the clothing you wear, the books you read. Everything came to the location where you obtained it through the good movements system, somehow on a truck, train, air cargo. The gas in your car came by pipeline, barge, truck or rail. Basically, what am trying to get across is that we all recognize that good movement is essential to our daily lives. There is very little we can do without an efficient, safe, unfettered goods movement system.
The next slide is called "Goods Movement Context." Historically, and some of you may be familiar with this, moving freight and moving goods was very much driven by production cycles; that is, manufacturing and production cycles drove the way we transport and distribute goods and services. And that the ultimate purchaser, user, consumer of those things, was essential to those cycles. This was called push logistics, meaning things were pushed out to consumers and purchasers.
But with the advancement of e-commerce/web-based sales, we really moved into an era where we are now very much purchaser or user driven. This is what we call, 'pull logistics'. In other words, the users, the consumers, and the purchasers of services and goods, are in many ways, dictating the manufacturing production cycles, the distribution and transportation, of these goods and services.
So what you see basically is that these production and distribution cycles have become somewhat unpredictable, and that time sensitivity is becoming more important. This really means that the reliability of our transportation system and of our infrastructure is absolutely critical, as we have seen with the logistics and supply chain disruptions caused by the tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan. That little hiccup in the global supply chain disrupted many economic activities here in the U.S., particularly automobile manufacturing. That is just one example of how the infrastructure of the transportation system reliability has become so important in our day-to-day logistics, distribution and freight movement systems.
The next slide is titled "What Does Goods Movement Need?". If you think about the dynamics of pull logistics, and these issues of reliability, there are really three main areas that we have to think about that affect the efficiency and effectiveness, safety and so forth, of the goods movement. Obviously, we need efficient and reliable routing options for freight. Street and community designs really have to be friendly and they have to accommodate logistics needs. And then finally, I think the goods movement community agrees that it is important to be able to move goods with minimal disruption, to communities and residents. The last thing a trucking company or a driver wants to do, generally, is drive down a street that is not really designed for a 53-foot truck or something of that nature. It's inefficient and it's unsafe. It slows them down. I think these are three things that we need to keep in mind as we continue to consider these issues.
So, you think about those three dynamics that I just talked about. Efficient and reliable route options, logistics friendly street and community designs, and the ability to move goods with minimal disruptions to our communities or neighborhoods. Let's switch gears for a minute and talk about complete streets and the typical parameters that you see with guidelines and guidance, the literature and so forth. Typically, there is an emphasis on improved mobility for bikes and pedestrians and improved mobility for cars. Typically, guidelines say something about freight and transit improvements that reduce potential conflicts between the modes. There are curb cuts, driveways, bicycles, etc. They talk about improved pedestrian crossings and on street parking, aesthetic and environmental improvements, and things that make streets more comfortable for as many users as possible, which is an important dynamic here to keep in mind. The concept of complete streets is supposed to be accommodating to all users, but in my experience, this is not always easy. Just a couple of quick examples from around the country: This is a before and after shot from a location in the Western U.S. You can see the before shot on the left, of a typical urban intersection. You actually have a 53-foot truck turning in there. The after is certainly, aesthetically, very nice. It is certainly much more pedestrian friendly, with narrowing of travel lanes and so forth, but I would say that will be pretty hard for a truck (as the one shown on the upper left-hand side), to be able to get through there anymore. Another example from guidelines, you see one showing curb extensions. The idea again of making this a more pedestrian friendly environment with narrow crossing makes it essentially very difficult for large trucks to navigate. If you are encouraging more pedestrian and bicycle use, you get potentially some very dangerous situations if this is also a truck route.
So what can be done to think more inclusively about goods movement and about freight, when we plan for, think about, and design complete streets? I see three major areas we need to take seriously. One is how can we plan to support rather than eliminate the goods movement. Another is to ask the goods movement operators what they need and what could work for them. And the third is to think beyond design. I will talk about that in a moment.
Supporting the goods movement. What does this mean? Again, think about routes and streets that trucks regularly use. If you are going to design a pedestrian-oriented roadway that trucks also have to use, you will make it potentially very difficult for freight movement. It's inefficient for those trucks, if you force them to use a street or other route that is not designed to accommodate them. Here are a few examples of where truck movements were considered in the complete street design in a very proactive way. One is recently in Hamburg, New York, which is south of Buffalo, New York, the New York State DOT is working with the MPO and the town of Hamburg and did a major complete streets reengineering of a couple of major routes there. New York State is very aggressive with the implementation of modern roundabouts. They did that here. In this case, they ensured that the new roundabouts on these heavily used truck routes were designed explicitly to accommodate the safe and efficient turning of the trucks that use those routes.
Another location where they have elaborately and explicitly worked on the complete streets approach is the city of Seattle, which many of you know is an active goods movement hub. There are guidelines, which include some very well designed checklist for planners and others to use, that allow for a very flexible approach to the implementation of complete streets based on the unique qualities of a particular street, including addressing freight mobility. In the case of Seattle, they have tried to recognize the role of and need for efficient freight movement in the transportation network and are working actively to integrate that into the way they approach complete streets.
In New York State, there is a statewide Association of MPOs. New York State has complete streets legislation, policies, and regulations, as do many communities in the state. The New York State Association of MPOs went forward with a fact sheet on complete streets. The factsheet highlights the need to consider truck access for deliveries in both policy approaches and planning approaches. So that is a few quick examples of approaches to supporting complete streets.
A second dimension to think about is asking goods movement stakeholders about their needs. What would work for them? What do they need? What kinds of designs would allow them to continue functioning? Again, I think this is a very important dimension that many in the planning and policy community are still trying to figure out and do more of, which is reaching out to the goods movement community. Orlando, Florida is one example from a number of years ago. The city of Orlando and the MPO there talked to garbage collection operators and the transfer stations to think about different options for using smaller vehicle sizes in residential neighborhoods. This is not a complete streets approach, per se. But it is an example of where there was outreach to the operators and they worked together to come up with different approaches to making quality of life conditions better through the use of smaller, less intrusive vehicles in residential neighborhoods.
In Boston, Massachusetts, this is a shot of some of the townhomes from the Back Bay area near Fenway Park. The area is crowded, with very limited and competitive parking. A lot of these neighborhoods have retail and commercial services on the ground floors of buildings. When there are a lot of local deliveries that need to be made on a daily basis, the competition for parking can cause problems - double parking, traffic fines, unsafe conditions, fighting over parking spots and all kinds of things. A number of years ago, the city worked with major delivery firms like FedEx and UPS, and other logistics firms, to identify how they could make the delivery situation more efficient and safe while still preserving the parking for residents and others who need that area. Using information on the maximum distance a delivery person could use a hand truck to bring packages to the delivery point from the truck; they came up with a system for loading and unloading zones every couple of blocks that were available for a few hours each morning. And by doing that, they eliminated a lot of the double parking issues and preserved the parking for the residents. So again, talking to the goods movement stakeholders and reaching out to the community to work together works.
Another example is in Ontario, Canada. The trucking association there decided that a lot of municipalities were designating and establishing truck routes without a good foundation of understanding of why and how trucks move and why and how they travel and, when they do, what kind of routes they use. It was leading to difficult and potentially unsafe mixing of uses, such as truck routes adjacent to bike lanes and heavy pedestrian areas in residential neighborhoods and so forth. They commissioned a consultant to develop this guide for municipal officials that explains in very plain language, with a lot of graphics, some of these issues related to truck behavior, truck size and so forth. The idea basically is to help municipal officials better understand truck behavior so that when they do go forward with establishing truck routes, they are doing it with more knowledge and more information of the consequences and options of what they are doing.
A third area I mentioned is something I call "thinking beyond design." Here, I think we are talking about operational type approaches that may be low capital intensive, but can have big consequences or impacts on truck behavior in complete streets settings. This is from a study a number of years ago in downtown Savannah. A lot of pedestrians and trucks are moving around in this area because of the port activities and other things going on close to downtown. The solution that was designed and pursued was to facilitate truck operations that were more context-sensitive, in this pedestrian oriented area, through more proactive signal management and new turning bays for trucks that allowed them to move more effectively and mix with the other traffic more safely.
Some of you may be familiar with this kind of system. In Europe, some of the major logistics firms have developed centralized collection and drop off facilities in neighborhood settings. They are automated for the most part. And they allow a single point of drop-off and pickup, for customers and for the actual company vehicles that bring packages and pick them up. So rather than having multiple deliveries to multiple sites in a single neighborhood each day, you might have one of these stations serving a few square blocks, which would minimize in a lot of ways the disruption to the neighborhood, from the truck movement. Not to mention things like greenhouse gas emissions and so forth.
Again, these three key areas are what I think are what we need to pay attention to, in order to do a better job of harmonizing goods movement and complete streets. Supporting rather than always assuming we need to eliminate goods movement, reaching out to goods movement operators, and thinking creatively by thinking beyond design to the operational and creative solutions.
Wrapping up, what are some of the common threads? One is the recognition of how valuable goods movement is to the quality of community life. It is not just about getting what you want when you want it at the grocery store or the corner store or the clothing store or the gas in your car. Goods movement, freight movement, is really the economy in motion. We have to remember that. Another common thread is partnerships through reaching out and working together both with public/private partnerships and across public agencies as well. And then what I mentioned at the end, which is creativity. Thinking about what is possible instead of defaulting to "I'm sorry, we can't do that."
Why is this important? We are looking to preserve and enhance efficient and safe access for goods movement in every setting in our cities and county where goods need to go. I mentioned that goods movement is the economy in motion. When we account for goods movement and treat it as equal with other areas of planning, we are really supporting local, regional, national, and economic vitality. Finally, what I mentioned at the beginning, we are really looking to preserve everyone's quality of life by achieving some level of peaceful coexistence of goods movement and urban activities.
It all comes back to this theme I mentioned at the beginning: harmonization. With that, I will turn it back over to Jennifer.
Thank you, Peter. We will move onto the next presentation given by Chris Steele. I will bring up your presentation.
Thank you very much Jennifer and Peter. I think it is probably helpful for me give you a little bit of context as to why Peter and I are both presenting. It was mentioned in Peter's bio that we have worked together on NCFRP 13, and I suggest you look that up, it's a free demo. It is a guide for the public sector to help them understand how freight related businesses make location decisions. There are also some lessons for the public sector so that officials, whether they are elected, appointed, or volunteers working within the planning around freight. This is so you can get a good idea as to how the private sector is making these decisions, and things the public sector can do to better enable that conversation and allow for knowledge sharing between the different decision-making bodies, as well as to get a better perspective on how some of those private sector folks are making decisions. That is really what I want to talk about with you this afternoon. What we will do is talk a little bit about freight movement and site selection basics. We will talk about when it gets within the community. We will talk a little bit about some of the complete streets, pluses and minuses, the things that occur to the corporations mind as it is making location decisions. The reason I am having this conversation with you is because we are a location strategies firm. What I am doing most of the time is working with companies, helping them to make location decisions and helping them to figure out where in the world it makes sense for them to operate, based on what they are trying to achieve. We tend to be able to bring that kind of a prospective to the conversation. You might also notice that Peter and I used very much the same terms, in terms of how we are thinking about how freight related businesses make location decisions. It is the economy in motion. Really, many of the things we're talking about here are enabling the basic lifeblood of the things we actually, as humans, come together to facilitate.
So as we did our work for the report, some of the things that came toward the floor, in terms of what public sector was or was not understanding about how these location decisions were being made, included that they didn't necessarily fully understand the economic developing contribution of freight facilities. They thought maybe a distribution facility on the edge of town and saw the trucks that would come through the local roads, but not necessarily understand that the movement was also facilitating the manufacturing that was making up X number of jobs in the community. There is a general lack of understanding of the freight facilities role in intermodal conductivity and the ability to move things between different modes and take things off of those trucks. There is also an ongoing conversation between the conflicts and the pressures on completing uses for land use within communities, and the implications it has, for the general urban structure, as well as the use of transportation networks, both within the community itself and regionally. There was also an interesting discussion around the concept that economic development land use planning conversation. Transportation planning has a different conversation, and elected officials have an entirely different conversation altogether. And that by bringing all of those voices together in one place, as well as the next thing I will bring to the table, it becomes a much more fruitful way of actually solving problems in a more comprehensive manner.
The last was of course is the awareness that the private sector is typically making the location decisions. It is trying to sell the business issue and the site selection itself is an expression. A physical manifestation of a solution to a business problem, and as such, they are very much the ones of going through the process to figure out where these facilities go. Put a different way, if you don't have them at the table, you are not necessarily going to have the best of insights as to what the problem is and what they are looking to do to address it.
Following on that point in the guide, we made this point fairly directly, and repeatedly. That freight facility site selection is very much made by the private sector. It is enabled by the policies of the public sector and by decisions made in terms of infrastructure, zoning and regulation, but overall, freight facility locations fit into a network that fulfills a business process. The network optimizes the various business drivers that have been identified to serve a market franchise and a location process itself, is an expression of the network strategy that is borne out of that business process.
What you have in front of you now is something of a cartoon of how a company would typically make a location decision. It is very similar. Whether it is the company working on their own or working with a consultant or a real estate broker. It starts on the left side with planning and strategy. We're trying to figure out exactly what the business problem is that needs to be solved. Is it an entry into a new market or region? Is a trying to address an acquisition reconfiguration? Is it trying to address a cost environment issue? Whatever it might be, it is trying to figure out what that problem is, the drivers, the location drivers behind it, as well as the business context in which the decision is being made. From that, we are able to put together at least a starting list of regions and communities that can help to support whatever those needs are. And then we go into progressive location screening, where we wait and ranked different factors that go into that decision. Until we come up to a short list of location candidates. From there, the consultant or the client themselves will go into the market and start to see what things look like more at the street corner level, and figure out the real estate options for addressing that need then see if the prototype can fit into that particular area. They are doing cross modeling as well. Then they are going in and engaging with the final negotiations, both with the real estate proprietor as well as the local government in some cases.
It is critically important for the public sector to understand this process, especially in the recent years where we as consultants and as the private sector, have so much more information at our desktops and the tools to be able to work with them. The public sector is becoming engaged in the conversation later and later. And so on the one hand, if you are a community that is trying to be proactive about being able to accommodate or to respond to the pressures and the needs of things coming into your community or on the other hand, from an economic development standpoint, trying to understand how to best attract certain kinds of uses into your community. You have quite a bit more work to do, in terms of gazing upward into the wrong side of the telescope, to make sure that you understand the left side of this equation better.
I mentioned a moment ago about the different drivers that go into location decisions, by different facility types. These are some of the factors that tend to come into the equation. You will notice that they differ somewhat based upon the different types of facilities we are looking at. For example, the distribution center might be more waited into the concept of being able to immediately access key markets and customers. And have very strong interaction with the transportation network itself. Whereas he might have other things, such as a hub terminal or something we don't have on this chart, an assembly plant, where labor and workforce might be much more of a driving factor. Regardless, for most of the things we're talking about, in terms of freight location decisions, those items up at the top and for the context of the conversation that we're having here, the interaction with the transportation network and the ability to access key markets or customers, is really Paramount.
Once the company has made a decision as to why communities are going to be looking at, it then becomes much more of a conversation about, where specifically in that marketplace, are we going to go? Which specific municipality? Which particular neighborhood? And which particular street corner are we going to? So as we start to go through that, the different issues, more distinguished, based on the kind of facility we're talking about. So the specific access that we might be considering could be due to any of the particular different kind of vehicles. So we could be talking tractor-trailers. We could be talking about rail, and then when we start talking about things where it is more local goods movement or regional goods movement, we could be talking about box truck and local delivery. In terms of whether it is customers coming to the front door, in terms of a retail operation or employees that are coming into that site for something that is more corporate and operational. We're talking about cars. We're talking about public transit. And we're certainly talking about bikes and pedestrians. All of these different modes of access must be factored in with the other location drivers we were talking about before.
In terms of the interaction with the immediate neighborhood, particularly where some of the complete street concepts are common, we were talking about freight access both incoming and outgoing, and we're talking about workforce and commuter access. We're talking about business-to-business interactions. Because of course, no one company works completely in isolation. It is part of an economic environment, an ecosystem. And then of course depending on the size and the role of the facility, you might have things that are more integrated with a fairly integrated mixed-use area, or it might be more separated, but regardless, the concept of being able to accommodate all users, has been so important to the complete streets conversation and has to be brought in.
It is at this point, that I will pause for a second, to reveal another role that I have. I am also the chair of the economic development commission in the city of Newton in Massachusetts. And some of the observations I'm about to give you are not just the observations of somebody that helps companies make location decisions, but also lessons learned from some of the things that we tried to do in terms of the initial planning of complete streets. Some thoughts that have really started to put more issues on the table then we had originally thought. If you remember, these are the values that are put forth by the complete streets concept. Sets of vision for how we will use transportation that network. It applies to all phases of the applicable project, and it goes network wide. It includes all users and all modes, limited exceptions, with management approval required. We're trying to cut down on the number of exceptions and keeping things as integrated as possible, and for sizing conductivity. What good is a transportation network if it doesn't actually connect to and from the different things that are important for that community. It is understood by all agencies to cover all roads. There again, underlining the concept of being able to work regionally and being able to work between different jurisdictions, and being able to work between different institutions that have different economic development, planning, transportation, and land used jurisdiction. Uses the best and latest design standards and is flexible. That is performance standards to evaluate over time, and to be able to suggest changes.
We're talking about, planned, designed, constructed, operated and maintained to provide safe access for all users, for a goals perspective. It's something that can plan for an address anticipated conflicts, and of course, providing for more efficient use of transportation assets and limited funds. You might also want to put in here, reduces things like environmental problems.
In terms of concerns, in some cases where not everybody has been brought to the table, how freight will use that complete streets concept may not necessarily be understood. We do have people that are immediately connected to the conversation. If you start to look at commercial settings and retail settings and industrial settings, to be able to anticipate how those users will be moving through and into the community and how they are likely to use the complete streets concepts. Without doing that, you will likely find problems, and this is where I will give you the concept of this. We have had at least one situation here in the new tenant, where in the middle of trialing concept, by leaving out the ability to unload box trucks, the box trucks would park in the middle of the street and unload by bringing trucks across the street. This is inefficient and dangerous, as well as significantly cutting down on the efficiency of the transportation network itself. The complete streets vision must understand also that not all freight users have the same needs. Retail, manufacturing and division will have different modes of transportation, and different times when they are using that network, as well as different interactions with their own transportation network. In fact, in some cases, where we are talking about things that are particularly heavy or that move between those that are not necessarily. For example, pedestrian or commuter or residents, it may in fact be most advantageous for all involved. That exclusion is the safest and the most preferred.
Many of these lessons learned, as well as some case studies that will give insight as to how decisions were made, are available through NCFRP report 13 which is available free online, which is a website that we put together to support the report as well as from the NCFRP itself. And we have both the guide as well as another document that covers all of the original research in it. I strongly recommend that anybody on this phone call go ahead and download that and make that part of your library. With that, I think that I will hand it back over to Jennifer.
Thank you, Chris. We're now going to have a few concluding remarks from Barbara McCann, Director of the Office of Safety, Energy and Environment, from the USDOT Office of the Secretary. There are no slides for this presentation. Barbara, you can go ahead.
Thank you, Jennifer. I appreciate that. I want to thank Peter and Chris as well. I believe the freight element of the complete streets equation has not gotten the attention it deserves, and I really appreciate hearing from the freight side of the equation because trucks are not going to go away. We need to be sure that our streets work for them. And a couple of the overarching themes that I saw popping out on both sides of the presentations are one of the fundamentals of building streets that work for everyone to use them, is really having an understanding of the needs of those user groups. And both of you addressed this issue, that it is not just trucks. It is really about looking at the different uses of the trucks, the manufacturing, and the retail distribution as Chris mentioned. And of course, the design attributes that the trucks might need, that understanding is the essential first step. The second piece was very clear and uniform across all users, for complete streets, is to make the planning process and inclusive one. As Chris pointed out, there are many different conversations going on. There is cross talk and not a lot of synergies between these different sectors. And so, what happens on the street is that there is a disconnect. So it really is important to be including the freight community and the shippers and the private sector community, and what is usually a public process. I really appreciated that.
I think the third thing to really pay attention to is this idea of creativity. I really appreciated the examples that Peter put up, with some different creative ways of looking at the freight situation. I think there is a tendency to throw up the hands and say, we can't do this because we have trucks coming through here. The only thing I didn't hear mentioned is that one of the things that can help planners in approaching this issue, is really understanding the frequency of these truck movements on the streets. Because often, you have a pretty rare movement trucks along a corridor then you can make a design that. Yes, maybe it is a little more difficult to navigate, but given the small number of trucks using it, you can accommodate forcing them to go quite slowly and be able to make difficult turns and that sort of thing. Whereas, when you have greater truck movement, you will not want to do that. So that frequency question is a good one.
I guess I would say overall, it is really about a balancing act. I think what is tough for the transportation community, is that it is a little bit of an issue that -- we can't have a cut and dry design guide that lays out for you exactly how to design, for each and every situation. That there is no single design that will accommodate everybody from the little old lady with her walker, to the major truck. It is really about balancing the different needs and looking at different situations. It's about coming up with some of these creative solutions, including operational solutions, in order to really make sure the streets work across all of these sectors. And I guess I just had a question for Peter about some of the examples that you put together. Has anyone compiled those into any kind of report or anything? Because that is something that I think would be very helpful so that more communities can start building on some of these innovative ways of doing complete streets for trucks?
Barbara that is an excellent question. To my knowledge, that has not occurred. I pulled most of those and others I have from reports that have come across my desk, things that I am aware of and so forth. But I am not aware of a report or a central source that is compiled on the integrating freight and complete streets. In fact, that is one of the issues that frankly led me to get interested in this issue, seeing all of these guides and best practices and so forth, related to complete streets. And it struck me how rare it was to see any mention of trucks or goods movement in them, so I built from that and started identifying. It was difficult to find examples of where the freight movement was actually called out of a major consideration. Again, I am not aware of any central source. That would probably be a pretty good thing for somebody to do.
Just adding into that- with the research we have done, even taking a step back from that, it was very rare to find a resource that specifically tied together all of the different issues involving freight, facility location, land-use planning, transportation planning and economic development, with the same source. This is a conversation that needs to be fostered on a couple different levels.
Yes, absolutely. Often, people like to think about complete streets in terms of place making and providing economic vitality to retail environments. But often, they leave out the fact that you actually have to bring the goods in there. On the one example that I have relied on the most has been from Seattle along Stone way, where they had a huge debate over an area that has a lot of truck traffic and a lot of bicycle and pedestrian traffic. They ended up putting in a bike lane on the climbing side of the street and a shared Lane on the downhill side of the street. In order to reduce from four lanes to three lanes and this has worked very well. There has been a decrease in crashes and fatalities. It seems like a good solution which took a long time to get to. I would love to see more of these kinds of examples to help communities with this struggle.
Chris, the question I have for you was you talked about the different uses of freight. One of the questionnaires, on the online text box, talked about truck sizes. Is there a consideration for how we take into account the different sizes of trucks, or is there a way that municipalities can encourage manufacturers or retailers to use smaller track of and these very dense urban areas where they are trying to create a more compact environment. Is that something that has come up?
The conversation is out there. The challenge you have is that it is not necessarily any one municipality the trucks are using. It requires a more regional approach toward setting a transportation policy, which by the way is absolutely the right way to go. I think that the question is maybe a little bit different in that, you do have several users of these particular areas that are paying attention to the fact that, from marketing and economic regions, they want to be in those markets. Of the operating reality is forcing them toward a different thing. It is not necessarily anyone municipality. The market potential and the reality is making them consider those options.
Okay. That is about all I had to add to the conversation. I am really pleased to see federal Highway is doing this.
Thank you, Barbara. Thank you for some good questions and comments there. Now we will move onto some of the questions that have been typed into the chat box. And when we get to all of those, we can open up the phone lines as well. I do encourage everybody to type in your questions. Peter, I know we have a number of questions for you. The first one was referring to the pictures you are showing on slide nine. The buildings look very different. The question is, is it the same place?
Yes, I believe so. I would have to go back to my files. It may be from a different angle or direction. But I believe I pulled those from a report and the photos from the same intersection. That was the reengineering of that intersection. As far as I know, that is the same intersection.
Alright. Thank you. Chris or Barb, feel free to jump in too. They really could go toward anyone.
Peter, the next question is for you. To accommodating all trucks or perhaps assume that a narrower selection, what should be the starting point?
That is a great question. It relates to what Chris and Barbara were alluding to earlier. I don't have a set answer to that. I think what it points out is the need for the planning and design community to improve its outreach to the goods movement community and operators. There are so many examples out there outside of complete streets specifically, of cooperative discussions and planning, that resulted in a better situation for everyone. There are examples like delivery consolidation centers, which is where you have deliveries going to a large institution and a city or region works with that institution to identify a way to have an off-site consolidation center. At that center, all deliveries from different sources are consolidated into single vehicles and delivered to the institution. So, rather than having all kinds of individual vehicles coming to that institution each day, we now have a unified system that minimizes the number of individual truck trips required in and out of the city to that institution. And I think that is one example of the kind of situation where that understanding of the freight operations and understanding the stakeholders, with what they need and how they operate. It is critically important. It is very possible that there could be plenty of situations in which a road could be redesigned, to a road diet or complete street approach, to be more narrow to accommodate single unit trucks or whatever. But you can't just assume that, you need to understand the dynamics of the operators. And what shippers and receivers are in that is that are in that zone. All of those aspects have to go into that planning. Frankly, in my experience, we are often planning with partial information about the users, especially about the goods movement side. I come from a MPO background, so I have some understanding of those processes. We make assumptions or assume it will work itself out. And I think in some cases, when you do that and you make those assumptions or don't understand the overall context very well, you can really undermine the effectiveness of a complete streets treatment.
If I can just add onto that for a moment- I was thumbing through the concepts. This leads into one of the questions on their regarding compromises. It certainly sounds from some of the comments, that we are really advocating, for compromises on behalf of that pedestrians, to accommodate freight. I would like to dispel that a little bit. What we are saying is that, without understanding how the freight system is going to want to use that system, you are in fact working that with complete information. It is not that you are compromising the one; it is that you understand the needs of the other.
I think Chris, to build on that, as I said earlier, very often the last thing a truck operator, trucking company or driver wants to do, is have to travel on a incompatible facility that is too narrow or whatever, because it is not efficient nor time effective for them. They know it is not safe. In some cases, they don't want to mix with incompatible traffic and activities. Again, it is very likely there will be situations where there is a road that has been designated to be reengineered with a complete street treatment. And the goods movement operators say 'that is fine because we think we can serve our needs by going over to a parallel street.' But you are not going to know that unless you reach out to them.
Alright, thank you both. Good discussion. Here is another one where we may have an answer from both of you. Can you discuss a case study were community government includes businesses to incorporate freight and complete streets plants?
I can point to one at least. It is from my presentation. That is the Hamburg, New York Complete Streets, the U.S. Route 62 Complete Streets project. The New York State DOT proposed a reconstruction project number of years ago. It was initially basically supposed to be a standard widening, removing diagonal parking, etc., to allow more capacity and speed throughout the town. It was a heavily used arterial by trucks. In this case, there was a citizen movement in the town that actually spearheaded the effort to work with the state, to rethink this approach. Without getting into a lot of detail, the ultimate redesign with a complete streets treatment really stemmed from a cooperative and collaborative arrangement between local citizens and the New York State DOT. I'm guessing perhaps the MPO, the Buffalo/Niagara MPO might have been involved in that as well as others. That is one example off of the top of my head.
Thank you. Chris, any thoughts?
Typically, in this case, on the user side, we come into the communities after the decisions have been made. I think Peter's example is the best one we will be able to bring to the table.
I should point out that in the Hamburg example, it wasn't just general citizens. It was a good number of downtown businesses that were directly involved. And this actually included some revitalization aspects for downtown businesses and architectural treatments and so forth. It was really kind of a holistic approach, for citizens, businesses and the planners.
Alright, thank you. Peter, the next question is for you. Your presentation talked a lot about making compromises for them bicycle and pedestrian side. Not any come from rising are changing from the goods movement said. Are there any changes that could happen on the goods movement site as well?
Yes. I think we kind of addressed this a couple questions ago. Just to reiterate, I think there is no set answer to that. But I think the goods movement community is happy in many ways to change routes and to change vehicles. And change a lot of things, if it helps them be as cost-effective and time efficient as possible. Just remember, for the most part, in today's goods movement world, I mentioned at the beginning, this pull logistics economy that we are in, that system reliability and dependability are absolutely paramount. And every minute a particular shipment is behind schedule is potentially money lost to the shipper, and money lost to the receiver, and money lost to the logistics firm. So that is really going to be, in most cases, the bottom line consideration of any goods movement operator.
Another question for Peter. How was the European central system originally developed? And where they initiated by logistics companies, planners or residents?
I don't actually know the complete story on those. I do know the example I showed, the DHL kiosk, is actually a joint venture between the German Post Office and DHL. These were first implemented about 12 or 13 years ago. Now they have spread to somewhere around 2000 cities and towns throughout Germany. And I believe elsewhere in Europe. And they are continuously introducing upgrades to the automation and the capacity of these centers. They have been extremely well received. I have to believe that there was some involvement of local or regional planning officials in the siting of these facilities. But I just don't know all of the details.
Alright. Related to that, what types of drop off facilities are becoming popular?
I'm not sure I totally understand the question. The facilities that I showed the example of -- they can hold 800 packages or something like that. I have read that DHL has introduced some of these automated facilities that can accommodate up to 400 packages for a pickup or drop-off at one time. I'm not sure if the question refers to those or the drop-off facilities within buildings were things of that nature. One of the issues that is still being played out in this country and elsewhere, is the afterhours or off-hours delivery concept, which most of you probably know that New York City has had a very vibrant pilot program on for trying to help get trucks a little less in the mix with peak hour traffic. That is a tough nut to crack in most cities because of zoning issues and business hours issues. But in some of those cases, there are ideas related to secure drop-off/pick up facilities integrated into office buildings, so you don't necessarily have to always have humans on site, to deal with the package delivery or pickup for them. That would more effectively allow for off-hours.
Next question could be for Chris or Peter. Is it or should it be a concern about the ability to reprogram the freight facility, it's making certain that the next use fits with the context?
It is a very common economic development question. As we are dealing with freight facilities where you have a company that is coming in looking to make a five or 10 year commitment or usually longer than that, the question of what happens when the business model changes, and that facility is no longer optimal for that use it is something that companies are starting to look at a little more in terms of the, how not to waste the capital expenditure. But it is one of those things that communities need to pay attention to as well, in terms of what are the possible uses this facility could be turned into overtime? And what are the implications of that in terms of infrastructure of all time, it presentation included. We have seen many facilities that have changed over into a flex space or into an office or retail space. And each of those has a very different interaction with its community and different transportation uses. So as these are being permanent in the first place, those sorts of questions would be very well asked at that point.
Yes. I think you are absolutely right. I think about how I live in the Northeast U.S. and again, I often hear a lot of talk about potential reuse of these kinds of facilities, redevelopment and so forth. I think there are some great opportunities with some of these, for rethinking the way they are designed, and the access points and so forth to accommodate and facilitate much more efficient and less intrusive goods movement. One of the things I have seen around the country, in recent years, from various studies I have been involved in, are the sort of smart growth neo-traditional design communities either in the suburbs or within mid- urban core. And these often have a lot of a lot of mixed use, commercial office, residential and so forth. And I am often struck by the utter lack of accommodation of goods movement needs, especially with the design of several new buildings, with commercial establishments or restaurants or whatever, on the ground floor, and lofts or apartments about. And then to have no access point for delivery, built into the system, other than the classic double parking in front of the facility or blocking in people who are parked or whatever. So I think -- there are opportunities -- lots of opportunities. But we have to build them in. We have to be thinking about them. It can't be an afterthought.
Just on that very quickly -- I wanted to draw people's attention to that schematic that was in one of my earlier slides. If you are a city official, as a company is looking to come into the community and said of the facility, being able to understand if this were to move out for whatever reason, what else might want to be there? Being able to understand that concept from a workforce or from a market access perspective or whatever it might be, and then being able to make sure that you leave the door open. Provided of course it is a use that the community wants and wants to encourage in the future. Being able to leave the door open so a decision made on transportation infrastructure doesn't preclude that reuse and the future. That kind of proactive and that kind of visionary thinking definitely keep flexibility open for future decision-makers.
Alright, thank you. The next question: What are your thoughts with respect to incorporating truck parking loading zones, complete Street policies and designs?
I can start. I think it is probably wise, depending on the setting. If the complete Street treatment is to be down in a setting where there is a lot of retail services and commercial establishments and so forth, then one would think you would want to figure out a way to make sure you are incorporating truck parking and loading zones. One, I believe in Seattle, if I remember correctly, one of the approaches they have taken is that there are guidelines, is during certain hours of the day. I think usually early-morning. That in certain areas such as the bike lanes of the pavement is actually allowed to be used as a loading and unloading zone. So a brief inconvenience to bicyclists every morning, but generally, before peak business hours. Therefore, the trucks can get in and out. And the Lane is available the rest of the day. I think it is really a matter again of understanding the setting. Understanding the goods movement operators and the shippers and receiver needs and being not creative but logical and figuring out how to make these things work together, in a way that harmonizes the uses.
All right. Thank you. The next question here. One of the challenges of complete streets is competition for space and allocation for different uses. What are the speakers' thoughts about expanded activities such as late-night deliveries to shift truck deliveries when there are fewer pedestrians, bicyclists, parking? Are there natural affinities from manufacturing, delivery, distribution, needs for off-hours?
I have already mentioned that that is an area that needs a lot more attention. There is a lot of potential there.
I completely agree. I think particularly, with regards to some of the retail side of things, that is already part of the standard practice. I think it can be more completely thought out with everybody being at the table at the same time, so that streak design can help accommodate that temporal shift. For the manufacturing side, I think it is a little bit different. And it really depends upon the kind of manufacturing we are talking about. Some of the temporal shift already occurs. But others, quite simply because of the nature of things and how manufacturing has been shifting to more of a, just in time, kind of a concept, it is a little bit harder to lock down the temporal shift. The way that companies are operating with much smaller inventories in-house and things are either being customized to respond to specific orders or are just being brought in, just in time to a particular process that is being done. It makes it a lot harder to do that kind of a temporal shift. Others, maybe not as easily. An issue and a lot of urban cores, with off our deliveries and track activities, our noise. And sometimes vibration impacts on residents. I believe UPS or FedEx has bought several thousand of these, to continue building their fleet. There may be potential for getting serious about off our activities in urban cores, from that one perspective at least. It doesn't necessarily address the economics for shippers and receivers and so forth. Those who may think it is too costly to do that. But I think there are some opportunities opening up as these sorts of vehicle technologies start getting into the fleet.
All right. Thank you. Not really a question but a suggestion I wanted to mention. A suggestion for a guidebook about analyzing some of the case studies Peter mentioned. Thinking this will be a great assistance to many groups. And perhaps, the major cities committee of TRB could put this in as a research statement.
Chris and I are always available to help with something like that.
Absolutely. I think that is actually a great idea. It looks like Madeleine put that in. I would suggest that might be great shared efforts, like the urban freight movement committee, and some of the others. Perhaps even the Metropolitan planning committee, which does get into freight as well. So there may be a lot of interest and research effort, with more committees on board, that probably gives them more legs and that TRB machinery.
Great. Thank you. It looks like we have people typing in questions. While we're waiting on that, we do have a little time left.
This is Barbara McCann. I wanted to add one thing while we're waiting. Another partner to bring into this -- I believe, is the Motor Carriers Administration here at DOT. They have been very active and interested in working on that pedestrian and bicycle safety, in relation to the truck industry. And so, they might have interesting things to say about this issue. So when we're putting together a research statement that is something to take into account.
We do have one question. With decline in use of postal services, are there any opportunities to use those underutilized facilities as potential freight pickup and delivery hubs for communities?
Without having thought about it, I would say off the top of my head, potentially I would caution many of the postal facilities that we have seen that have been underutilized, tend to be from an older era and may be functionally problematic or obsolete. But as a concept, it is an interesting one. I think it deserves for the study.
I would agree with that. My observation is that some postal facilities are not necessarily in optimal locations to function in that way. The post office in recent years, has tended to take the "cheap dirt" route and build outside of downtowns, but for those that are still in urban cores, I think those certainly have some potential. And something that maybe somebody should look at.
Thank you. Another question: Do you have examples of areas that have tackled addressing complete streets and a strategic way, with the understanding that transportation networks have components that serve different functions, Interstate to local street? This relates to statements that all roads should be complete streets desirable to all users.
I can't think of one off of the top of my head. What I would suggest is that there are a lot of reports out there that have been done by various groups. There is a recent one that I came across, called, "Rethinking Streets, An Evidence-Based Guide to 25 Complete Street Transformations." This was done by researchers at the University of Oregon. It came out in the last couple of months. It gives a lot of examples across the country of different types of complete streets applications. I would suggest that might be one that would give you some sense of it.
I was going to jump in here. I am familiar with that book. It is a good one. It is very much corridor oriented. I think the question was a little bit more about the network approach. And I would say, yes, there are places doing that. Charlotte, North Carolina is a good example. It has really created a new set of street categories. Nashville, Tennessee there are a number of places that have created these overlays, over the functional classification system, to create street systems that systematize and prioritize different users on different types of streets. I have talked about some in our book has a really good set of resources, for those types of design guides and local standards that have tried out these different methods. I definitely suggest going to the website and downloading some of the information they have there.
Alright, thank you. Unfortunately, we are out of time. We have had some great conversations today. I know there are a few questions that came in that we didn't get to address. I will send them out to Peter and Chris and Barbara. Or alternatively, Peter and Chris, feel free to type your responses here if you have a few minutes after this. We will get to them either way. Thank you all for attending today's seminar. The recorded version of this event will be available within the next few weeks on the Talking Freight website.
Before we end I do want to mention that FHWA released Freight Facts and Figures 2013 this week. This report contains national statistics and maps highlighting the extent, use, and consequences of freight transportation in the United States. The link to download the report is shown here.
The next seminar will be held on June 18. More information about the topic of this seminar and a link to register will be available soon. I will send a notice out through the Freight Planning LISTSERV once it is available. I encourage you to join the Freight Planning LISTSERV if you have not already done so. Enjoy the rest of your day!