Curb Appeal: Data to Understand and Manage These Valuable Assets

Tire turned into the curb - parking on a hillBy Meera Raja

The space between streets and sidewalks has become the hottest new real estate. The competition for curbside space is fierce; from delivery to drop-off and all the modes and activity in between, everyone wants a piece of the curb.

Traditional street parking and freight space are battling an influx of new mobility modes, resulting in curbside disruption. Now more than ever, cities need to responsively manage these spaces to balance the competing objectives of communities, business needs, and local transportation priorities. The right intervention can rationalize and optimize this valuable asset to prevent congestion and achieve equity and environmental goals, all with a potential for new revenue opportunities for cities.

Cities have multiple paths to manage curbs, but a key piece has continued to be missing from this discussion: understanding real-time demand at the curb.

Before building out proposed interventions, we need to understand activity at the curb: what specific curb space is currently designed to do and the actual demand for each space. Understanding this mismatch by modeling curbside activities can enable new tools for curb management; data and solutions on time- and location-specific demands will inform how to best allocate and monetize the space.

This exercise can also inform a dynamic management business model that accounts for proportional use and value. With a demand-driven model as a foundation, cities can actively test and implement tools that dynamically manage curb spaces, relieve curbside pressures, and create efficiencies for users. As activity and demand continue to shift due to either intentional interventions or mobility modes and trends that arise, refreshing data and models will be key to creating dynamic tools that allow for flexibility.

With this type of approach of first modeling activity and value and then piloting an intervention, cities can build robust data-driven plans to deploy flexible management, dynamic pricing, and forward-looking urban design solutions.​

Meera Raja is senior manager of solution design & program development at City Tech Collaborative. She will present on this topic during IPMI’s 2021 Mobility & Innovation Summit online, February 24-25–click here for details and to register.