The first delivery center in the Seattle neighborhood is now up and running.
The center, in a parking lot near the Space Needle, brings together companies working in transportation, delivery logistics and food preparation to help solve the problem of the “last mile”: the expense and environmental cost of the last stretch of delivery. .
The problem is a focus of the University of Washington. Urban transport laboratory, which estimates that just the last 50 feet of delivery account for 25-50% of transportation supply costs. The lab examines new ways of structuring transportation systems through public-private partnerships. The neighborhood delivery center is your new pilot project.
“Our goal is to create a space to encourage experimentation,” said Anne Goodchild, laboratory director and professor of civil and environmental engineering. “But that experimentation will be carried out by companies that already work in this space.”
The center serves as a drop-off point for trucks, which unload packages onto an electrically assisted cargo tricycle or directly into a package locker. Goodchild envisions the center not just as a solution to the last mile delivery system, but as a neighborhood hangout where people can eat and socialize while picking up their packages. The companies involved in the project include:
- Mountain cycles, a startup from Missoula, Mont., that makes electric-assisted cargo tricycles. Your on-site trike will transport packages for HelloFresh food service and other companies to the surrounding neighborhood.
- BrightDrop, a General Motors spin-off that produces first-to-last-mile products. BrightDrop has manufactured an electrically assisted rolling parcel carrier that attaches to the trike and can be unhooked for manual push.
- AxleHire, a logistics startup that provides route optimization technology for last mile service. The company will coordinate the deliveries.
- REEF, a Miami-based startup that expanded from parking management to providing infrastructure for neighborhood centers. Reef manages the lot and operates a neighborhood kitchen on site. Customers can now order a SoCal or NorCal Burrito from Man vs. Frieze, a small chain operating from other REEF locations in the US The kitchen is also designed to partner with Seattle restaurants, providing a small-sized local option for delivery.
The Seattle Department of Transportation is a partner in the project, which dovetails with a program to encourage the use of cargo bikes and a 2030 goal of achieving 30% zero emissions delivery in the city, said Kelly Rula, New Manager of Mobility of the department.
“The concept of micro-hubs is really taking off internationally as a really exciting new experimental space,” said Rula. She noted that New York City has a cargo bike Program with more than 350 bicycles. Amazon is a partner on the New York show, and he’s starting a cargo bike program in london. In January 2021, there were more than 45,000 cargo bike deliveries in New York, according to one city evaluation, and each bicycle saves seven tons of carbon dioxide per year. Amazon is a partner of the Urban Freight Lab, although it is not participating in the new center project.
The Seattle delivery center offers additional services alongside cargo bike delivery and “is a great example of how a space can be used for many different and interesting uses,” said Rula.
The project will help the city understand the infrastructure needed to support the new modes of delivery, said Rula, noting that cargo bikes currently do not have license plates. As another example, the parcel locker, which accepts deliveries from all carriers, required its own mailing address, Goodchild said. The locker accepts deliveries from all carriers, and people who live or work nearby can register for locker delivery at belltownlockers.com.
The Urban Freight Lab will monitor the new project through a series of sensors, for example assessing reductions in road traffic and the number of packages delivered to the locker. The researchers will calculate the carbon dioxide savings compared to conventional truck-based delivery systems.
Delivery centers have the potential to revitalize the community within an e-commerce delivery system, Goodchild said. The centers can be integrated into the neighborhood, such as a place where people pick up their packages and buy coffee at a stall or play with their children in an attached park, he said.
“It’s like a modern mall or a neighborhood store,” Goodchild said of the concept. “It has lower emissions and is adapted to the new retail model, but it is still a benefit for the community.”
The center is located at 130 5th Ave. N, in what some locals call the Uptown neighborhood.