Curbs of the Future

Creating safer, more efficient and productive curbs and streets

As the use of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs such as Uber, Lyft, etc.) increases, ridesharing pickups and drop-offs are adding to the demand for curbside access, competing with vehicle parking, commercial loading, and on-demand deliveries. With growing competition for space, some cities are starting to be more intentional about defining curbside uses and allocating space.

We recently partnered with Uber on two curb studies to examine urban corridors where the demand for curb space contributed to issues related to access, circulation, and safety. We collected, observed, and analyzed video and traffic data, including activity data from Uber to quantify loading demand. This helped us better understand demand for curb space and behaviors and trends at the curb.

San Francisco Curb Study

In San Francisco, California, we analyzed how well several locations accommodate moderate-to-high-volumes of passenger loading activity amidst other uses. As a result, we were able to provide a method for quantifying data that cities can use to evaluate productivity, define strategies for safer and more efficient curbside access for passengers and drivers, and develop curb space modification examples to facilitate curb access for people.

Curb Study Locations

Transportation Hub

Train station surrounded by mixed-use office and industrial area

Commercial Corridor

Mixed-use commercial and medium-density residential area

High-Density Office Neighborhood

High-rise office and commercial area

Downtown

High-rise office and commercial area

Bicycle Corridor

Civic Center neighborhood – high-density residential and commercial area

Key Takeaways

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Curb Productivity Index

We developed a metric which represents the efficiency of a specific curbside designation based on its primary use. Since this study focused on passenger loading activity, the curb productivity index was expressed as the number of passengers served per hour per 20 feet of curb (passengers per space-hour).

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Strategies to Improve Curb Productivity

We developed three basic strategies to improve curb productivity for each of our locations. By accommodating a greater proportion of passenger loading demand, and thereby reducing the frequency of double parking, these strategies aim to reduce friction and increase safety in the travel lane.

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Design Templates for Curb Configuration

We produced conceptual design templates to help cities understand and evaluate curb changes that could improve productivity and accommodate a greater passenger loading demand. These templates may also prove useful for other cities with similar urban land use and streetscapes.

Explore the San Francisco Report

Cincinnati Curb Study

In Cincinnati, Ohio, we collaborated with City staff to develop a curb study that provides observational and analytical results illustrating the productivity of multiple modes. These results were used to identify improvements to the city’s priority locations, including area-wide circulation and curbside changes to promote safe and efficient access for people.

Curb Study Locations

Walnut Street

Downtown
Classic, downtown street with restaurants, hotels, and valet stands located by Aronoff Center for the Arts

Second & Main

Great American Ballpark
Major intersection gateway to Cincinnati Reds ballpark which also provides access to regional freeway system from downtown area

Freedom Way

Nightlife District
Destination street with popular bars and restaurants – a lively spot on nights and weekends

Key Takeaways

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Analytics

We quantified dwell time and the number of concurrent passenger loading events, as well as documented where the events take place in order to provide recommendations to improve access, circulation, and safety.

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Area-Wide Circulation

We identified key actions the City and stakeholders could take to redistribute the peak travel demand at each location including wayfinding, event-based traffic control, and other treatments.

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Curbside Modifications

We developed recommendations for curbside reconfiguration, including permanent, temporary, and time of day changes to address the peak demand for curb space associated with the land uses on each corridor.

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Policy Changes

We identified that modifications to the valet operations programs would allow the City to more actively manage, monitor, and improve modes around the curb study locations.

Explore the Cincinnati Report