Owing to the rising popularity of ecommerce, expedited deliveries, ride-hailing services, and micromobility options, curb space is in demand now more than ever. Because curbside is a public property, the burden of efficiently allocating this commodity comes down to city officials. However, despite being valuable real estate, a recent study demonstrates how city staff presently do not have the data or tools to efficiently prioritize the distribution of curb space, let alone profit from it.
Like many cities, Washington, DC, has a problem with double parking and delivery vehicles blocking crosswalks and bus and bike lanes. One experiment in curb management showed good results during its trial run from August to October. Using the curbFlow app, delivery drivers can book an appointment for a loading zone up to 30-minutes in advance. Double parking and illegal U-turns went down 64 percent in the nine zones where it was tried. Delivery drivers like it as well, as they reported that they received fewer parking tickets and avoided circling the block looking for a legal spot.
In 2008 the city of Chicago made a deal to allow a private company to run and receive all revenues from parking meters. The concession has been widely denounced as a bad deal for taxpayers. Critics of the deal often point to the missed opportunity of parking revenue. Others note that the concession makes the city less nimble when implementing innovative curbside solutions for transit, cycling, and placemaking. Recent analysis shows how the deal is working out for the city and private investors.
State and local transportation agencies have long focused on what’s happening between the curbs—collecting data about the speed, volume, and types of vehicles moving along each road—but growing competition for curb space from parked cars, bikes, taxis, TNCs, and deliveries presents new challenges both in terms of data and policy. Fortunately, data experts are stepping up to the task.