SMARTSET in The Guardian: The innovative delivery system transforming Gothenburg's roads


It’s a simple idea. The Swedish city’s Stadsleveransen system pools deliveries for 500 shops and businesses – drastically reducing shopping centre traffic and freeing up once-congested streets for pedestrians and cyclists.

Walk through central Gothenburg’s main shopping streets near the cathedral and you are as likely to see futuristic cargo bikes and electric cars dropping off deliveries as you will see trucks and white vans. Cargo distribution has been targeted as part of a long-running initiative to make the inner city area a more attractive environment for walking and cycling. Normal streets have been turned into pedestrian areas, parking has been prohibited and traffic restrictions mean that normal deliveries with vans and lorries are only allowed between 5am and 10am on the most crowded streets.

Go back 10 years and it was a different picture. Cars were parked bumper to bumper along busy one-way streets, with pedestrians relegated to the narrow pavement.

“It was a messy situation here,” says Christoffer Widegren from Gothenburg’s urban transport administration. “It was a quite cramped city centre, where the traffic situation clearly affected the atmosphere and the competitiveness of the area in a negative way. The city centre could not compete with the shopping malls outside of town in terms of accessibility by car or parking places, so instead it had to present itself as an inviting and attractive environment which offers more than just shopping.”

To facilitate the needs of smaller businesses which are not able to organise early-morning drop-offs, the city of Gothenburg helped launch Stadsleveransen (the City Delivery) to pool together deliveries for shops and businesses within a central zone stretching about 10 streets. Private transport companies leave their packages at a freight consolidation terminal from where Stadsleveransen’s fleet of two electric cars and two cargo bikes carry the goods the final couple of kilometres. There is also a small electric van assigned for transporting fresh fish from the harbour to Gothenburg’s Fish Church market.

The pilot delivery scheme initially served just eight clients when it launched in 2012, but now close to 500 businesses take part – from small offices to major retailers – and more than 350 packages are delivered each day. Stadsleveransen, part-financed by the EU’s SMARTSET project, only accounts for 20% of the goods volume in the area where it operates, but it handles the majority of deliveries. Fees from private transport companies and advertising sales fund the service, and it is expected to be a self-sustaining business by next year and expand into other parts of the inner city.

This online news is an excerpt of the article “The innovative delivery system transforming Gothenburg's roads” by The Guardian. Read the full article online here (Link to The Guardian).

Christoffer WIDEGREN