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Looking ahead to the not-too-distant future, the widespread adoption of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) has the potential to reduce the need for parking, but could also dramatically increase the demand for short term wpick-up and drop-off spaces on the curb. time consuming site visits and informal field surveys to help them understand existing conditions. Once appropriate locations for new curbside regulations were identified and changes were implemented, cities found themselves without a great way to communicate the new designations, with many relying on press releases, temporary signage, or static maps. While well intentioned, the methods used by cities in 2020 were not all fit for purpose, and city staff were left to make quick decisions with the imperfect understanding and tools that they had on-hand. Changes were implemented on a location-by-location basis, without a deeper understanding of the trade-offs they were making between allocating space for parking, social distancing for pedestrian activity, curbside pickup, and dozens of other curbside uses. Simply put, cities lacked the data and tools to effectively manage and communicate changes to curbside regulations enacted in response to the effects of COVID-19.

Curb Data: This is the Way

The path towards better understanding and communication of curbside regulations starts with better data. There are a handful of ways to generate this data, but one of the simplest and quickest ways is by using something like the Shared Streets CurbWheel—an open-source data collection tool that can be used to survey streets and create digital curbside regulation data. City staff can then leverage this data using GIS tools or web-based spacial analysis tools to help them better understand existing regulations, identify curb allocations that may not meet current demands, and make changes in a simple and visual way. Cities can also share this new data with users—via interactive web map, existing parking application, or

API that third-party developers can use to integrate this data into their own applications—to provide a clearer picture to users of where they can park, load, or stop near their destinations. By allowing drivers to plan the last miles of their trips in advance of arriving at the curb cities can reduce cruising for parking, better direct delivery vehicles to dedicated loading spaces, and ensure that connected and autonomous vehicles can understand the curb effectively as pilot programs continue to expand across the country.

Preparing for a Post-pandemic Curbside

The past year has shown us that while the curbside is essential to urban transportation, the understanding cities have of existing curbside regulations and the tools they use to manage and communicate it are insufficient. As we look ahead to a post-pandemic world, cities need to ensure they have the capacity to adjust to the changing demands placed on the curbside. Growing populations of personal vehicle drivers will need to find parking spaces, CAVs will need to ‘see’ the curb even when signs aren’t immediately visible, courier vehicles will need more dedicated loading space to support the demand for deliveries, and surely there are future uses we haven’t started to designate curbside space for quite yet. It’s up to cities to plan, regulate, and communicate these changing curbside designations to ensure that the curb is ready for the demands of the future—they just need the data and tools with which to do it. ADAM WENNEMAN is associate, manager, transportation planning with IBI Group. He can be reached at adam.wenneman@ibigroup. com.

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