The rise of the smart city movement brings with it the need to advance technology in multiple areas—including the curbside. We heard some interesting presentations at the 2018 IPI Parking conference in Orlando, Florida about advancements and changes being made to curbside parking technology and how they play a role in the bigger picture of smart cities.
Willa Ng, associate director of Mobility at Sidewalk Labs
The static curb—which is currently a transition zone from a larger mobility network to sidewalks and buildings—is going extinct. In its place we’ll soon find “The Dynamic Curb”, which will allow users to make payments at the curb and find parking availability via technology, and will also utilize digital signs that communicate in real-time to users who may not always have their phones on them. All of this information would be controlled from a central location.
Mary Catherine Snyder, parking strategist for the Seattle Department of Transportation
In Seattle, there is a lot of competition for curb space, including bike share, parking, gardens, and loading and unloading zones. Because of that, we have begun to prioritize curbside usage through Flex Zones. These Flex Zones accommodate modal plans, allowing curbsides to be utilized for transportation modes, access and commercial goals, and various other programs, depending on the priority. The asset management system that Seattle has set up to manage the curbside is very comprehensive, allowing us to get rid of single-space meters and move to multi-space meters, as well as have the ability to incorporate a parking reservation system, furthering the conversation of advancements in parking technology and how it might evolve in the future.
Furthermore, we have introduced a performance-based paid parking program, allowing us to gather data on popular times and places for parking and adjust meters and payments accordingly to try to ensure there are at least one or two spaces open at peak times. We’re also doing our best to enhance access to bus lines, rideshare, and bikeshare programs.
Evian Patterson, associate director, parking and ground transportation division, district Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C.
In Washington, D.C., re-purposing the curbside has been in the works for some time. A study we conducted in a popular nightlife area, just south of Dupont Circle, found that crowds were flooding the streets at closing time and making it impossible for traffic to get through, and pedestrians were frequently blocking the paths of emergency vehicles. The solution was to turn curbside parking spaces into loading and unloading zones once the meters turned off for the night, clearing the way for emergency vehicles. We also condensed curbside signage to make parking rules more immediately obvious. While the kinks of this new curbside set-up are still being worked out, the feedback has been very positive and it’s clear that everything is moving in the right direction.
As more cities move toward smart city status, it is increasingly important to reevaluate the role of the curbside in day-to-day life. With advancements in technology (and some imagination), we’ll see curbsides becoming much more than just transitions between streets and buildings.