Urbanism Next
University of OregonUniversity of Oregon

Curbside Management Design Strategies (Coming Soon)

Curb design can help manage increased activity at the curb while maintaining safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.

New transportation technologies including micromobility, autonomous vehicles (AVs), and transportation network companies (TNCs), and increased dependence on online purchases are increasing demand at the curb. It is important that design, in addition to fees, time restrictions, and related techniques (see our What to Do Governance page on Streets and Curbside Management), be used to dynamically manage this resource. Opportunities for the curb include designing flexible programmatic zones, reallocating parking for emerging technologies, designating passenger pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) locations, implementing safe freight delivery, and converting on-street parking. Furthermore, the value of urban curbs has been spotlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which influenced urban dwellers to activate the streets as public space.

Issues & approaches

Redefine parking lanes as flex zones: The City of Seattle pioneered the use of “flex zones,” or multi-use zones along the curb whose purpose changes based on the surrounding land use. Flex zones can be used for commercial deliveries, parklets, [metered] on-street parking, and taxi zones and can address mobility needs during specific times of the day, week and year. Other uses for flex zones include accessible loading/paratransit, bus stops, food trucks, and passenger pick-up/drop-off (PUDO) points.

Micromobility parking: With the rise of shared micromobility, the curb has become a location to park and charge bicycles and e-scooters. Micromobility corrals (located on-street, off-curb, and behind STOP signs) can improve visibility for motorists and create safe spaces for e-scooters to park that will not become an obstacle for pedestrians. Similar to vegetated barriers and transit islands, micromobility corrals can be strategically located to protect bike-designated and scooter-designated lanes.

Mobility hub considerations: Mobility hubs incorporate physical, programmatic, and technological elements to create a hub where multiple transportation offerings exist in one place. Design considerations for mobility hubs include geofencing parameters (which can limit or expand access of emergent mobility technologies), multimodal parking, security, and storage: all while cultivating a sense of place. More information on Mobility Hubs design and elements to consider can be found on our What to Do Design Mobility Hubs and Mobility Hub Elements pages.

Repurpose on-street parking: The need for on-street parking will likely decrease when AVs arrive on our streets. This gives planners, designers, city officials, and invested stakeholders an opportunity to redesign our streets to make them more functional. Repurposed on-street parking can result in the implementation of bike lanes, bus stops, food trucks, loading zones, paratransit amenities, pick-up and drop-off spaces for AVs & TNCs, transit-only lanes, and other flex zone amenities. Additionally, reduced on-street parking along the curb will likely reduce traffic bottlenecking and congestion.

Impacts of COVID-19 on Curb Management: In the wake and aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, cities across the nation and around the globe began to adopt tactical approaches to urbanscapes, including transformations of streets, on-street parking and curbside spaces. For curbside management, this raises the question of what on-street installations, transitional amenities and less-temporary parklets might add to the mix. More importantly, cities are beginning to contemplate how designers, municipal officials, and planners can leverage the recent rediscovery of streets as public space in the short and long-term post-pandemic period.

Examples/case studies

Impacts of COVID-19 on Curb Management - Curbside Management Strategy

Curbside Management Strategy: Improving How Curbside Space Is Used

View - Curbside Management Strategy -City of Toronto & IBI Group

The City of Toronto’s Curbside Management Strategy (CMS) offers recommendations, tactics and utilities for managing curbside space to support mobility, access and use. Specifically, Toronto’s CMS offers 18 specific methods (in addition to long-term and short-term suggestions) to improve the use and design of curbside space.

Repurpose On-Street Parking - Street Improvement Project

San Francisco 5th Street Improvement Project

View - SFMTA and Kittelson & Associates

This project by SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) and Kittelson & Associates (Transportation & Engineering Consultant) in San Francisco, California is in the midst of repurposing a highly-traffic multimodal corridor in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood.

Design for Safer, Smarter Freight Delivery - Smart Delivery Zones

Smart Zone Delivery Pilot

View - Coord & City of Omaha

This project by Coord, the City of Omaha, and Omaha Parks, in Nebraska is in the midst of piloting a smart, flexible delivery zone program. The reservable zones are designated areas in alleyways and along curb, demarcated for loading and unloading. Currently being piloted at no-cost to users in Omaha, Smart Zones are also being tested at various rates in Aspen, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; and West Palm Beach, Florida.

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