Allison von Ebers

Buses, Deliveries, Parking, oh my!

Allison von Ebers, Dixon Resources Unlimited, No Phone Number Available

Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 10:21 a.m.

Buses, Deliveries, Parking, oh my!

It’s 2 o’clock Wednesday on a block in downtown and there is a hand-truck of product being rolled into a store, a commuter waiting for a bus, a car parallel parking at a restaurant for a Grubhub order pick-up.

Cities across the country face the same challenge – how to manage limited downtown curb space with the competing needs of different users. This is referred to as “curb management.” Cities have to consider the multiple users and their individual needs - convenient parking access for customers, residents, visitors and guests, loading and unloading for commercial vehicles and delivery services, short-term parking for pick up and drop off, areas for taxis and rideshare service trips, public transportation stops, and dedicated space for non-vehicle travel such as bicycles and pedestrians. When cities proactively manage their curb space they can maximize the use of the parking supply, provide access for people and commerce, improve turnover on high demand blocks, and reduce traffic congestion.

Use of innovative resources like virtual parking permits, license plate recognition technology, mobile payment, smart parking meters and pay stations can provide insight into a parking usage, occupancy, and space utilization.

While there are many technologies that can assist with the monitoring and management of curbside regulations, dynamic and adaptive City resources are necessary for success. Engaging key stakeholders including local businesses, residents private parking operators, and public transportation companies are a critical aspect of managing the curb. The City must ensure an accurate understanding of the inventory of on-street spaces and assets and develop a dynamic approach towards curb management that includes adjusting parking rates and time limits based upon demand in order to ensure that, consistent with industry best practices, that 1 or 2 parking spaces are available per block. This will require proactively seeking compliance of parking, loading, and traffic safety regulations and the provision for ongoing collection and review parking occupancy and utilization data to ensure that the existing parking supply is maximized. We need to understand that the premium and most convenient parking is often the most desired and needs to be priced accordingly for short term and accessible parking.

Following the 2019 Downtown Parking Study, Spokane city staff have taken a proactive approach to addressing the curb management needs throughout the downtown core. Many of these initiatives are already underway including:

  • Engaging the business and residential communities;
  • Updating aging parking meter equipment with new smart meters and kiosks;
  • Promoting touchless parking through mobile parking application;
  • Mapping all parking spaces within the downtown core and documenting their use;
  • Updating parking municipal codes and policies;
  • Reviewing loading zone, special loading zone, and residential permit programs;
  • Converting manual physical permit programs to a digital platform;
  • Reviewing and implementing short-term parking zones;
  • Optimizing parking enforcement through new technologies;
  • Organizing staff to review parking revision requests; and
  • Adopting a performance-based rate management system with the goal of 1 or 2 parking spaces available per block

Effective curb management is well orchestrated performance of operations, technology, planning and execution. Look for the changes coming soon!

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