The Climate Impact of ‘Freight Sprawl’

Ximena González, the Sprawl:

Last year, Vanessa Acevedo worked part time as a driver for Amazon. Using her personal vehicle, a 2014 Ford Fiesta, five times per week she drove the 26 km of Stoney Trail (a.k.a. the ring road) between her home in Redstone, in Calgary’s far northeast, and Amazon’s distribution centre, DCG4, in the southeast.


Occasionally, it would take her up to an hour to arrive at the address to drop off her first delivery. Over the six months she drove for Amazon, Acevedo delivered parcels as far as Chestermere, Airdrie and acreages in the deep south, beyond Calgary’s city limits.

Driving her Fiesta through the sprawling infrastructure that helps satisfy consumer wants in Calgary, Acevedo got to experience what for most Calgarians remains hidden in plain sight.

Some of this is surely an effect of the way cities are designed, especially suburb-heavy cities like Calgary. But it seems more layered than that. The lure of same- or next-day delivery is obvious, but its incentives are more questionable. From safety problems to questions about the climate impact of the transportation system and the goods themselves, it seems worth rethinking.