Deliveries on Narrow Streets

Let’s take a look at some ways that people in Traditional Cities handle package deliveries. Keep in mind their streets are typically narrower than ours, in the range of 8-25 feet wide — or what Nathan Lewis calls a Narrow Street For People.

For big delivery companies like FedEx and DHL, operating in the human-scaled environments of Europe or Asia simply means downsizing their vehicles.


Bad Gandersheim

Views of London

Goldbeaters House and DHL

Small trucks and vans can move through a Traditional City fairly well. They’re easily accommodated on the wider streets (the Boulevards and Arterials) and even most of the narrow streets. In American cities like New York, some delivery trucks are already becoming smaller and more European looking. There are certain advantages to being small.

NYC - August 2014-105

In the occasional situation where trucks just won’t work — the streets are too narrow, or vehicles are prohibited or simply overkill — cargo bikes can fill the gap.

DHL bicycle rickshaw in Strasbourg

Milaan februari 2014

A FedEx delivery bicycle navigates a narrow European street.

Asian cities get extra points for creativity. Check out these delivery mopeds…

Domino's Delivery

Pizza Hut Delivery

Or this tiny electric vehicle…

7-Eleven Delivery Vehicle

In Italy, the Piaggio Ape has been in production since the 1940s….

Ape 500

The street below is only about 5 feet wide, but you could still deliver a refrigerator here. Doesn’t it look refreshing and fun compared to our modern cookie-cutter streets?

A delivery cart on the narrow pathways of Capri, Italy...

Here’s another common solution: park the delivery truck nearby and use a pallet jack or a hand truck to finish the delivery.

Deliveries to the Spanish Bar by trolley

Man rolling delivery cart up bridge stairs, Venice

Of course there are bigger ‘small’ trucks when you need to transport something more substantial. These usually stick to the Arterials and Boulevards.

Tinknell WA07JPX

DHL even delivers goods by boat in Venice…


Hopefully it’s becoming clear that deliveries are really not a problem in a city of narrow streets. We just need the right tools for the job. Which, in a pleasant city for people, is often not this…

more corporate illegal intrusions in public spaces : double parking, FedEx, san francisco (2012)

But rather something simple, like this…

Alleyway, Kagurazaka

We can still get a pizza or an order from Amazon. Everything still functions. We just tailor our delivery methods to our city streets, the majority of which should be a Place For People, rather than a Place For Large Trucks.

Seems like a nice way to live, doesn’t it?

rickshaw babe