Could we solve a lot of our traffic problems if we delivered more goods at night and took the trucks off the street during the day? Good question that we were thinking about these days and Eric Jaffe just wrote about.
Freight delivery during daytime seems to create a lot of problems for cities. Delivery trucks not only contribute to traffic jams, they also suffer from it. In DC, the cost of truck traffic is about $650 million a year. Off-hour delivery programs (trucks deliver their freight at night rather than during the day) promise to improve the traffic situation, to decrease shipment time, and to improve the air quality.
However the noise from beeping and rumbling trucks during nighttime can seriously impair peoples’ sleep (I have been suffering from that). Eric points out that the noise could be reduced by good practices (not slamming doors) and technologies ("noise-reducing vehicle coatings"). Back-up beepers should be turned off, too.
I would add that it is important to rethink our delivery strategies: In the case of nighttime deliveries it obviously makes sense to incentivize deliveries with little neighborhood impact but high impact on road traffic (these goals might be contradictory). Furthermore, we are currently thinking about new vehicle types, new distribution hubs and new concepts of combining people and goods movement. This might include new bundling strategies, small-scale autonomous vehicles, micro hubs, transformable freight-stations, or new delivery docks on a building scale.