About the Zero-Emission Delivery Zone

Information
Zero emission commercial loading zone in Los Angeles
In 2023, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded PBOT a SMART Grant to pilot a Zero-Emission Delivery Zone and use data and technology to better understand the curb. This project will trial a combination of incentives and regulations to promote cleaner ways to deliver goods downtown.
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Project overview

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) was awarded a nearly $2 million Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grant by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) in Fall 2023 to pilot the country’s first regulated Zero-Emission Delivery Zone in downtown Portland and test digital infrastructure tools. This project will test an innovative set of incentives and regulations to better understand what technology and strategies municipalities can use to support and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the freight sector.

While other cities in the United States have piloted voluntary Zero-Emission Delivery Zones (ZEDZs) to encourage the transition of commercial fleets to zero-emission modes, Portland will be the first U.S. city to pilot a regulated ZEDZ. The regulated ZEDZ will be active during a demonstration period of approximately six months beginning in late summer/early fall of 2024. During this temporary demonstration period, the parking rules for all truck loading zones within the project area will be changed to prioritize access for zero-emission vehicles only (see Figure 1). Loading zones within the ZEDZ will be monitored by parking sensors, both before and after the approximately six-month long demonstration period, so that project staff can better understand the impact of this regulation. These loading zones will be referred to as Zero-Emission Loading Zones.

This pilot project will also test a variety of partnerships and incentives to accelerate the movement of “clean goods,” or goods with fewer negative impacts to health and the environment. This could include diverting existing deliveries into the ZEDZ to local fleets of electric-assist cargo trikes and electric vehicles, vans and trucks, or supporting local delivery companies in transitioning their own fleets to zero-emission modes.

This project is enabled by a nearly $2 million USDOT SMART Stage 1 pilot and prototyping grant. Depending on outcomes from this pilot project, PBOT will have the opportunity to apply for a Stage 2 implementation grant for up to $15 million to refine or scale promising strategies identified in the initial pilot project. The two stages of the SMART grant program are unique in that they allow the City of Portland to test several strategies on a small scale before exploring any larger-scale implementation. All of this work is in service to Portland’s values around climate and transportation justice: a safer, cleaner, and more equitable system for delivering goods and services.

The proposed Zero-Emission Delivery Zone in downtown Portland including potential zero-emission loading zones, truck loading zones, PGE Electric Avenue EV Charging Station, bikeways, and J40 Designated Disadvantaged Community boundaries. The potential zero-emission delivery zone is bounded by SW Jefferson St on the south side, SW 6th Avenue on the west side, SW Taylor Street on the north side, and SW Naito Parkway on the east side.
Figure 1. Draft map of project area showing proposed zero-emission load zones updated in March 2024. Loading zone site selection will be refined with stakeholder input in late Spring 2024.

When is this happening?

The project kicked off project planning and development in September 2023. The regulated Zero-Emission Delivery Zone will be active for approximately six months during a demonstration project period between what is expected to be August 2024 and February 2025.  Prior to launching the demonstration project PBOT staff and partners will:

  1. Convene focus groups;
  1. Survey and interview local stakeholders;
  1. Gather data on current loading zone use;
  1. Select sensors; and
  1. Finalize loading zone site selection.

Truck loading zones within the ZEDZ will be reprioritized for zero-emission commercial vehicles only  for six months as the City continues to collect data, test incentives, and work with stakeholders to understand challenges and opportunities of this approach. At the end of the pilot project, the City will prepare a final report with key findings and recommended next steps.  

Public involvement to date

Public involvement is key to a successful ZEDZ pilot project. Throughout the ZEDZ pilot project, PBOT is committed to sharing information and gathering input regarding the needs, issues, concerns, and opportunities of the public, stakeholders, and affected parties related to this planning effort.

The public involvement goals are to: 

  • Engage people in non-traditional, non-elite, and community-trusted places. 
  • Seek to establish non-transactional relationships with people, communities, and businesses. 
  • Be intentional about how resources are spent. 
  • Intentionally place new, emerging, and disenfranchised community organizations and voices on a level playing field with more traditional community power structures 
  • Value all types of information and data. 
  • Be clear about decision-making at every step. 

The ZEDZ pilot project promises five commitments to the community and stakeholders:

  1. The City will engage and use applicable stakeholder input to inform loading zone selection for the pilot project. 
  2. The City will temporarily change the regulations of the selected loading zones to prioritize Zero-Emission Vehicles only to park for loading/unloading operations. 
  3. The City will pilot Zero-Emission Loading Zones. They are temporary and will be returned to their prior designation as truck loading zones (as defined in Title 16) after a six -month pilot period. 
  4. This pilot project will allow for testing of regulations and incentives.
  5. The City will collaborate with stakeholders on the planning process for the SMART Stage 2 Grant application.

As of April 2024, the ZEDZ pilot project team has accomplished the following public involvement activities:

  • Presented at the Portland Freight Committee on June 1, 2023, and March 7, 2024 (see slides here)
  • Presented at C40 City Challenge on March 28, 2024 (see slides here)
  • Presented at Metro’s TransPort on September 13, 2023, and April 10, 2024 (see slides here)

Future public involvement includes, but is not limited to:

  • OMF SMART Collaborative Meeting (April 22-24, 2024)
  • NACTO Meet the Cities Poster (May 7-10, 2024)
  • Convening a series of Environmental Justice Focus Groups (May/June 2024)
    • Stakeholders include community-based organizations supporting the unhoused community living downtown and climate justice, as well as neighborhood advocates for climate justice.
  • Convening a Local Business Focus Group (May/June 2024)
    • Stakeholders include local businesses that operate within the ZEDZ project area.
  • Convening a Local Goods Delivery Focus Group (May/June 2024)
    • Stakeholders include goods delivery companies who deliver within the ZEDZ project area.
  • Convening a Privacy and Personal Data Focus Group (May/June 2024)
    • Stakeholders include folks within the privacy advocacy space. 
  • OATS Panel and Tour (June 5-7, 2024)
  • Urban Freight Lab Summer Quarterly Meeting (July 15, 2024)

Why test a Zero-Emission Delivery Zone?

This pilot project is testing how regulations, incentives, and partnerships can change behavior and decrease pollutants from freight vehicles. This project directly responds to the City’s 2040 Freight Plan, adopted by Portland City Council in July 2023. 2040 Freight provided the momentum for PBOT’s SMART grant application by identifying small-scale projects that improve freight efficiency, safety, and access. One of the projects identified in 2040 Freight is improvements of last-mile solutions, like deliveries that take place in commercial districts. Examples of last-mile solutions include freight consolidation strategies as well as infrastructure, like zero-emission delivery zones, and equipment that encourage the adoption of smaller and zero-emission vehicles.

Through this pilot project, PBOT staff aims to test strategies that may have positive outcomes on the environment, public health, traffic safety, and curb management.

Environmental

In 2020, Portland City Council declared a climate emergency and set a goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Transportation accounts for nearly 40% of the carbon emissions in the Portland area. Although trucks represent less than 5% of the vehicle fleet, they generate 24% of all transportation-related carbon emissions. This project directly responds to the Climate Emergency Declaration and the subsequent Climate Emergency Workplan that named “make freight cleaner” as one of its nine transportation sector decarbonization priorities.

PublicHealth

Nearly 40% of Portlanders who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color live within 1.2 miles of the city’s biggest sources of air pollution, such as freeways and industrial facilities. This exposure increases vulnerability to chronic health conditions like cardiovascular damage, asthma, and more. An effective Zero-Emission Delivery Zone and other clean freight solutions may begin to reduce nearby air pollution, bringing direct health benefits to those neighborhoods, while also providing economic opportunities for zero-emission carriers.

Traffic Safety

As with most cities in the U.S., urban deliveries in Portland are primarily done by vans and trucks. With an increase in demand for e-commerce (and same-day delivery), we’ve seen more frequent, shorter trips taken by vans and trucks in Portland. This means more delivery vehicles on streets not designed for the increase on commercial vehicle volume. It also means growing concerns for the environment, safety, and infrastructure maintenance. According to the 2040 Portland Freight report, there were 2,267 collisions involving trucks between 2014 and 2018 (4% of all Portland collisions) with 3.3% of those fatal or involving serious injuries. This study identified Portland’s downtown core as one of the areas with the highest concentration of collisions involving trucks. Although the absolute number of such crashes is much lower than for general motor vehicle traffic, truck-involved crashes are more likely to involve fatalities and serious injuries due to both the weight and size of these delivery vehicles.

Curb Management 

The increase on e-commerce deliveries has exacerbated the demand for parking, loading, and unloading of commercial vehicles that many cities were already experiencing. Parked and double-parked trucks are a major contributor to urban congestion and the obstruction of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, along with trucks and delivery vans idling and emitting pollutants and GHGs.

Improvements in the ability of commercial vehicles to find adequate parking based on 21st century technologies, particularly in dense areas, could potentially yield significant pollution reduction benefits. Increased availability of commercial vehicle parking would reduce commercial vehicles circling to find a spot, or parking in a travel lane or illegal space, causing congestion and safety conflicts. Finally, incentivizing mode shift to smaller size commercial vehicles could help reduce mode conflicts with vulnerable users during the loading, unloading, and parking operations.

Who are our partners?

This pilot project would not be possible without the help of local and regional partners:

White INRIX logo on a blue background

INRIX

INRIXis developing and implementing Curb Data Specification (map city parking rules using open-source data standards), providing curb analytics and trip analytics to further study ZEDZ operations, procuring sensors and integrating sensor data into analytics data, and providing connected freight vehicle data to study ZEDZ operations. 

B-Line Urban Delivery logo

B-Line

B-Line is developing and implementing Mobility Data Specification and Curb Data Specification as part of e-cargo trike operations and supporting delivery and activity at micro-hubs in ZEDZ

Alta written in blue text on a white background

Alta Planning + Design

Alta is supporting project management, communications, public outreach, project implementation, and final project report and advising on strategies for a potential larger Zero-Emission Delivery Zone in Stage 2.

Neighbors for Clean Air blue text in a blue circle with a white background

Neighbors for Clean Air

Neighbors for Clean Air is providing support for  focus groups with environmental justice stakeholders and elevating voices of those impacted by climate injustice.

Portland State University

Portland State University crest next to black text on a white background

Portland State University is collecting observation data on loading/unloading and parking operations pre-pilot implementation. They are also identifying delivery profiles for tenants and businesses in the ZEDZ project area and conducting surveys and interviews.

University of Washington Urban Freight Lab

Purple "W" above Urban Freight Lab University of Washington College of Engineering purple text on a white background

The University of Washington Urban Freight Lab is conducting target interviews with key freight and goods delivery stakeholders and developing a white paper summarizing their findings.

Smart City PDX (Bureau of Planning and Sustainability)

Smart City PDX in white text over teal background

Smart City PDX is providing input on parking sensor procurement and offering expert opinions for focus group around privacy and personal data. 

C40 Cities

C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group white text over a green background

C40 Cities is providing expertise, thought leadership, and best practices on zero-emission delivery zones and sustainable procurement and goods movement.

Open Mobility Foundation

"O" in teal color with a location icon, "M" in black, "F" in teal thick text next to Open Mobility Foundation in black text over a white background

Open Mobility Foundation is leading a collaborative of other U.S. cities working on digital curb management and provide resources/case studies/best practices to support work.

Separate from City’s Zero-Emission Delivery Zone pilot project, PBOT is also excited to participate in the inaugural cohort of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s (LACI) City Climate Innovation Challenge for Zero Emissions Delivery (ZED Challenge).  PBOT joined LACI alongside six other anchor partners, including Louisville, KY, Los Angeles, Miami-Dade County, FL, New York City, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Santa Monica, and Washington, D.C.

Additionally, PBOT submitted this grant in collaboration with the Open Mobility Foundation (OMF) and a collective of eight cities and counties, all focused on using digital curb information to reduce congestion, enhance livability, and improve safety and equity on local streets. The members of the collaborative who all received SMART grants include the cities of Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Miami-Dade County.