What is the Final 50 Feet?
Urban Freight Lab researchers coined the term "final 50 feet" to describe the final segment of the supply chain: beginning at the load/unload space located at the curb, in an alley, or a private loading bay; tracking the freight carrier as they maneuver intersections, curbs, curb ramps, and sidewalks, and elevators and security in buildings, and ending when the customer receives their goods. It involves both publicly and privately-owned components.
Why the Final 50 Feet?
In addition to being a key to brand reputation and customer satisfaction, the final 50 feet is both the most expensive and most time-consuming part of the delivery process—and ripe for improvement. Researchers estimate the final 50 feet segment accounts for 25-50% of total supply chain transportation costs.
Urban Freight Lab Final 50 Feet Research Program
First launched in 2016, the Urban Freight Lab's Final 50 Feet Research Program uses a systems engineering approach to investigate solutions to optimizing operations in the final 50 feet of the supply chain. This is the first time researchers have analyzed both the street network and the city's vertical space (residential and commercial high-rise towers) as one integrated goods delivery system.
Research projects analyze processes, develop potential solutions, and pilot tests operational improvements to the street network and the city’s vertical spaces, such as office, hotel, retail and residential towers.
Innovative Solutions to the Final 50 Feet Problem
Since our launch in 2016, the Final 50 Feet Research Program has pilot tested the following innovative approaches on the ground in Seattle:
Common Carrier Lockers: Common parcel lockers can create delivery density by allowing carriers to leave deliveries in one secure location. Our Final 50 Feet Urban Goods Delivery System: Common Carrier Locker Pilot Test at the Seattle Municipal Tower study reduced the average time delivery workers spent in the building by 73% and failed deliveries decreased to zero.
Common Neighborhood Microhubs: Microhubs (also called "logistics hotels" or "urban consolidation centers") are central drop-off/pick-up locations that can provide benefits by consolidating trips and offering additional services convenient onsite. We tested a Neighborhood Delivery Hub in Seattle's Uptown neighborhood.
Cargo Bike Delivery: Cargo bikes are more nimble and occupy less space than traditional delivery trucks and vans. Our Cargo E-Bike Delivery Pilot Test in Seattle found that traditional commercial vehicles cruise for parking 50 minutes per day, while cargo bikes can potentially park anywhere.
Integrated Planning: Although passenger and freight transport share infrastructure, predominantly in urban areas, they are largely seen as different systems and remain separate. Our Freight and Transit Lane Case Study found that restricted multi-use lane strategies have the potential to tackle urban freight challenges.
Director of Policy and Partnerships, Urban Freight Lab
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About the Urban Freight Lab (UFL): An innovative public-private partnership housed at the Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center at the University of Washington, the Urban Freight Lab is a structured workgroup that brings together private industry with City transportation officials to design and test solutions around urban freight management.
About the Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center: The Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center at the University of Washington is the go-to place to analyze and solve urban goods delivery, sustainability, logistic hubs and ports, and freight system performance management problems that overlap private and public spaces and control. Our work integrates in-depth consultation with industry and the public sector, transformative research, and executive education, and serves the powerful nexus of industry, transportation infrastructure, and policymakers.