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Itís About the CurbÖ

October, 2018

Opinion

JVH

When I suggested to a group of municipal parking gurus that there was a program that could allow delivery companies to reserve curb time to make their deliveries and stop that incessant double parking that clogs our streets, I got one response: “How would you enforce it?” and then the subject changed.


My next line would have been “The same way you enforce all other parking. Officers receive information about certain spaces being reserved and write citations to those parked in those spaces that weren’t supposed to do so.”


Parknews.biz is filled with articles about the curb and its value to cities, beyond parking. Deliveries is one, pick up and drop off for Uber/Lyft is another. What about controlling where food trucks park? Or special zones for UPS and FedEx? I’m not saying that these zones should be free. UPS would love to pay for reserved space so their drivers could easily and quickly make drop offs and pick ups.


Cities could learn from airports which have been restricting curb parking for decades and have reserved space for certain types of vehicles. If you want a hotel shuttle, go to the red sign; parking, green sign; Uber/Lyft pool, the roof of the parking structure. Why can’t cities do the same?


I understand that in some major cities, the areas around apartment buildings are jammed with Amazon delivery vehicles, and at dinnertime, with Grubhub and pizza vans dropping off food for the residents. At lunch, office buildings are mobbed with deliveries for workers.


Is it too far outside the box to consider areas reserved by time? UPS deliveries in the morning, food deliveries at noon, UPS pick ups in the PM, and then in the evening, spaces would be freed up for private vehicles for persons living in the area or visiting restaurants and clubs.


Is it too far outside the box to consider areas reserved by time?


There is a company in the UK called Grid Smarter Cities that has developed an app that tracks curb space and allows for reserved curb space for deliveries in certain areas at certain times of the day. Does it work? I don’t know but it’s possible.


Revenue? 


Don Shoup has posited that if half the “free” on street parking space in New York City were charged at $5.50 a day, over 3 BILLION in annual revenue would be generated. 


Curb space, particularly in commercial areas, may be more valuable than you think. Plus, it may have more uses than parking private cars.


I just finished reading an article about the value of curb space in cities and how in the future cities will be able to control the curb with cloud-based systems and exotic sensor-based programs. The author acknowledged that although the concept of controlling the curb based on activity, time, delivery schedules, and the like is a super idea, it isn’t going to happen quickly.


The article did make one recommendation that caught my eye. The author felt it was a good idea for municipalities, when purchasing software-based systems, to look for suppliers that had plans for expanding their programs in the future to areas that have been overlooked currently, like controlling curb space. Huh?


I’m supposed to make purchasing decisions based not only on what a company has done and proven systems it supplies now, but also on what it might do in the future? A future that may be decades away and a future that has unknown costs.


So, I lock myself in to company A because of what it might do in the future, and then find out that company B has a product that is half the price and twice as good as “A’s”. Obviously, my crystal ball is a bit cloudy on purchasing day.


One of the beauties of the competitive marketplace is that we are exposed to the good, bad, and ugly of products and services and they shake out so that the ones that really work and provide what we need survive.


Ah, yes, the curb. A friend of mine has been experimenting with curb controls in her city based on how airports control their curb space in front of terminals. Her experience so far is mixed.


Consider the problems.


Uber and Lyft drivers are directed to where their fares are standing when they request a ride, not where the city wants them to pick up their passengers. You not only have to train the drivers, you have to train visitors to the city. Forming taxi ranks is a great idea, but they can require starters on site. This becomes labor intensive.


Reserving spaces for deliveries (UPS/FedEx) can require almost full-time enforcement to ensure the space is kept clear.


All this removes substantial revenue generating space. And cities love that revenue. Is there a way to charge Uber/Lyft, UPS FedEx, and taxi drivers for the time they spend picking up and dropping off? What kind of riot will that cause?


The ideas are great, but technology hasn’t caught up yet. The question is “when will it?”


JVH


John Van Horn is the editor and publisher of Parking Today. He can be reached at jvh@parkingtoday.com.



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