An Interesting Equation for Managing the Curb

By L. Dennis Burns, CAPP

I recently read a Wired.com article entitled, “Uber Writes an Equation to Help Cities Measure–and Manage–the Curb”.

The equation devised by Uber is meant to help cities evaluate how efficiently they’re using this increasingly contested space.

Here is the article’s opening paragraph: “After years of neglect and scorn, this strip of urban infrastructure, long the sole domain of the meter maid, has gotten incredibly crowded. Bike- and scooter-share companies would love to park their wheels there. Transit agencies would love for drivers to stay out of their bus stops. Delivery drivers—the folks transporting businesses’ daily merchandise, the roughly 30 percent more UPS, FedEx, and USPS packages sent since five years ago, the 20 percent more takeout orders—would love to idle just outside their destinations. Ride-hailers like Uber and Lyft would love to pick up and drop off their passengers quickly and safely. Car owners would love to park there, ideally for free.”  Sound familiar?

IPMI’s 2018 Emerging Trends in Parking survey agrees.  The survey begins with a heading that reads, “It’s All About the Curb.” New lifestyles put transportation and mobility center-stage, shining a spotlight on curb management, alternative commuting methods, and parking.

In a report released last month, Uber and the transportation consultancy Fehr and Peers published what they’re calling a “curb productivity index.” It’s a way to figure out what the curb is doing for you. The equation is deceptively simple:

Activity/(Time x Space)

Activity is the number of passengers using the curb space by a specific mode, time is the duration of their usage, and space is the total amount of curb footage dedicated to that use.

The article provides several examples on how to apply this equation and suggests that it is “an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand way to communicate the benefits of turning over parking in very busy downtown centers to more productive uses.”

The full story can be accessed here.

What do you think of this approach?

Dennis Burns, CAPP, is regional vice president with Kimley-Horn.

 

 

 

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