What If… Cities Could Foresee the Future Curbside

Joven Chew
March 30, 2022

Recently, the use of curb space has rapidly evolved, especially with the many changes happening in cities. Curb spaces that used to be paid parking went from pick-up drop-off zones during lockdown, to curbside patios and pedestrian spaces now, and will continue to shift in the future. The function of the curb has been changing so much that it can be daunting. To help understand the impact of these changes, consider the following questions:

  • What is the number of spaces compromised in order to make this change?
  • What is the potential revenue lost by doing this? Number of users impacted? The sustainability score?
  • Would this change impact marginalized groups or cause equity issues?
  • What are the possible consequences of making this area more transit-oriented vs. more pedestrian-friendly vs. for cars only?

These are just some of the possible questions that may arise for any curbside changes. The city then has to balance the many priorities and make informed decisions with the end user in mind, based on almost no data. I know, this sounds like a nightmare to cope with!

What if… you could see every possible option without implementing it? Here is where the value of comparison comes in.

Introducing the Comparison Dashboard

CurbIQ’s Comparison Dashboard is an integral component of Curb Analyzer that helps users navigate through the many possible changes to the curbside. The dashboard lets users compare changes in curbside supply by regulation type, potential revenue, sustainability score, number of users, or any other customized metrics for different curb uses. These changes can be viewed both in the side-by-side comparison view as well as in the net difference view.

By proposing different regulations on various scenarios, for example, proposing a transit zone and a few spaces dedicated to micro mobility for a transit-oriented scenario, users can see the difference between a proposed plan and the existing curbside conditions to understand the impact of these changes. Users can also compare different scenarios throughout various time periods to find the best fit for the given curb space. The intuitive and user-friendly interface of Comparison Dashboard allows users to easily navigate through the platform and see everything in a single view.

Comparison Dashboard

Understanding Different Use Cases

Want to make the area near a bus terminal more feasible for pick-ups and drop-offs, but don’t know how? Do you wonder if doing this will impact the residents or businesses nearby? Want to add designated zones in a location but not sure if that’s a right choice? Comparing different scenarios in Curb Analyzer makes this a breeze.

Removing parking spaces that generate revenue can be hard, but once you can see the other benefits, the change becomes easily justified. What are 5 new loading spaces when there are 150 parking spaces in the area? Besides looking at the potential revenue gained/lost, the number of users or sustainability score are other good metrics to evaluate the optimal usage of the curb. For a more vibrant street, like the area close to a transit station, it would make more sense to design the curb space such that it can serve more users.

There are many additional metrics that can be used to evaluate and quantify if a change would be a good decision. Distance to a certain facility, collision frequency, number of businesses, and loading dwelling time are also potential indicators to be used – all customizable for a given city and dashboard. Would this change bring more harm than good or is this a smart move? You can easily find out using CurbIQ’s Comparison Dashboard with just a few clicks.

Using the Past to Inform the Future

In addition to comparing different scenarios, users can also compare different historical periods to understand how curbside regulations have evolved over time. Tracking curbside changes can help cities visualize if they are achieving their goals. This applies to multiple metrics – municipalities can see if they have been implementing changes that give access to more users or have decreased potential emissions to align with climate goals. This is especially useful when demand data is available and integrated into the dashboard as well, but that’s for another blog post. Allowing cities to better understand their past planning and decisions can help them learn from mistakes or build off of successes to design for a better future.

hamilton curbside
An example of the change in curb use from traditionally parking to modern concepts like curbside patios.

Foreseeing Without Executing

Being able to compare before and after conditions without actually implementing it is a huge deal. Every single curbside change requires considerable time and effort from cities. Whenever a paid parking space is converted into loading zone, for example, cities have to first update that curb in their database, send workers to update the signage, remove a parking meter, and possibly re-paint the curb with a different colour. All these tasks cost money and they add up quickly when many curb spaces in a city are constantly evolving. Therefore, the ability to foresee how the curb would look in different scenarios helps to answer the what-if questions and leads to data-driven decisions.

Now what if… you want to make this a reality in your city? Don’t hesitate to reach out and we can show you the power of CurbIQ’s dashboards to help with curb management and planning.

Joven Chew
Joven is a Curbside Mobility Analyst at Arcadis IBI Group who has a passion for cities and sustainable mobility. Her experience working with data, from data ingestion to data analytics and visualization, aligns with Arcadis IBI Group's efforts in utilizing data to provide meaningful insights and digitizing curbside to open up greater future possibilities.
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