This working group was formed in 2005, at the request of the authorities in charge of managing road infrastructure in Belgium. It gathered representatives from the three regions of the country (MOW for the Flemish Region, Brussels Mobility department for the Brussels Capital Region, and SPW for the Walloon Region), the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport and a few research institutes (ITLB, BRSI, BRRC).
Goods transport is a key factor in the economic development of enterprises and regions. At the same time, it can be held responsible for major nuisance such as noise annoyance, air pollution, the deterioration of road infrastructure, fuel consumption, road safety problems, etc.
The last few kilometres in town the most expensive (they may represent up to 30 % of the total cost of transport) and difficult (uncertainty, stress for drivers, etc.) to transport enterprises. Moreover, the sustainable development of town centres is connected with the problems raised by deliveries (environmental impact, economic development, and working conditions).
A scientific team including a representative of BRRC was formed for the Belgian Science Policy Office. This team investigated whether overnight distribution is a feasible option for urban goods transport in Belgium. Various stakeholders were asked about the advantages and disadvantages to be expected from overnight distribution. The study comprised a European benchmark, a literature study, (Internet) questionnaires, and in-depth interviews. The legal aspects and social basis were considered, together with road safety, economic impact, and potential modal shift. Practical policy guidelines were defined.
To allow less disruptive loading and unloading operations in urban areas (less noise, lower emissions of noxious substances, fewer blind spot accidents, etc.), Flanders Logistics has provided an opportunity for Flemish cities and municipalities to participate in pilot projects, together with the distribution firms Colruyt and Delhaize. Eight cities accepted the offer to take part in the first Flemish “Piek” study.
In cooperation with the consultancy firms Traject and Acoustical Engineering, the Mobility – Safety – Road Management of BRRC carried out research for this study, commissioned by the Flemish public authorities. The object of this research was to investigate the social and business-economic feasibility of making deliveries to shops at fringe-of-day times (just before the morning peak an after the evening peak) with PIEK-certified equipment (i.e., equipment quieter than 65 dB(A) and in some cases even 60 dB(A))