Rising urban freight and delivery activity in cities contributes to worsening air pollution, noise pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion. In addition to harming the environment and human health, these impacts disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities.

In response, some cities have enacted zero-emission delivery zones (ZEDZs), which are defined as areas that permit unrestricted access only to zero-emission delivery vehicles. To inform their ZEDZ planning, policymakers can look to comparable solutions like congestion pricing, off-peak delivery and low-emission zones for applicable learnings.

In our study of ZEDZs in the U.S. and Netherlands, we find that they can take different forms depending on local market activity and policy landscapes. Additionally, we find ZEDZ implementation lacking in neighborhoods that are currently most adversely impacted by freight activity. To implement ZEDZs effectively and equitably, we recommend that cities do the following:

  • Engage stakeholders early and often
  • Take a stepwise approach and build up to a ZEDZ
  • Provide supportive policies for successful and inclusive ZEDZs
  • Pursue state and federal policy reform
  • Prioritize equity at every step along the ZEDZ process

As ZEDZ implementation grows, future research will be necessary to quantify their local impact and identify best practices.