RESEARCH - Managing Demand for Curb Space

Wise OwlCurb space. This can be a very valuable commodity in urban areas due to the increasing competition among different road users for that space. During COVID it was even valuable for unrelated uses such as outdoor dining for restaurants. How should this be managed by officials, planners and engineers in the future?

Managing Increasing Demand for Curb Space in the City of the Future is  a technical report that studied current curb space management and policies. From that, the authors developed a conceptual framework to support flexible curb space management that was broadly applicable to cities.

Most cities still use traditional measures of parking demand such as occupancy, turnover, and meter revenue. By focusing on passive vehicle storage rather than the active flow of passengers and goods, these measures fail to capture new and varied ways of using the curb. Accurate, data-driven evaluations of curbside demand will lay the foundation for future innovation.

The report identifies other gaps in knowledge that arise from newer uses of streets such as on demand delivery (Uber Eats, DoorDash) and new methods of mobility (ebikes and scooters).

It's worth taking a moment to read Chapter 1, just to get some idea of why this study was conducted. 

But after looking through the whole Table of Contents, Acknowledgements, and Abbreviations it seems absurd to me that fire hydrants receive nary a mention! What kind of egghead researches curb space (or kerb space in some locations) without considering how useful extra room can be for everybody?

Obviously, the smartest place to stick a hydrant is adjacent to a driveway. Federal, Provincial, or Municipal laws will invariably prohibit parking within (typically) 3 to 5 metres of either. Please note article on 'How far away do I park' on this site. And yet, even in new planned developments - both residential and business - this never seems to get factored into the street design!

Obviously, there needs to be a minimum distance between hydrants (you can only carry so much hose on your fire truck) but for the engineers to be imposing their locations on the road design in a way that ignores curb demand (whereas adjacent to a driveway would improve access and visibility whilst creating more available curb) is just absurd.

Check out the newest development in your area, and see if this appears to have been taken into consideration or ignored by ignorant designers.