To See the Future of Cities, Watch the Curb. Yes, the Curb

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

When Greg Rogers left his gig as a Washington, DC, lobbyist in 2015, he did what any savvy, mid-20s kid with a car and a light wallet might: He signed up to drive for a couple of ridehailing services. “Living the millennial dream means quitting your job, driving for Uber and Lyft, and trying to figure it out,” he says…

Space Wars

Rogers, the driver-turned analyst, was inspired by his struggles to come up with a new curbside management concept, one that Washington and other cities are beginning to take very seriously. He calls it “shared use mobility zones,” and you can think of it as flex-space: At certain times of day, the city reserves the curb for specific functions. During rush hour, maybe, it’s a pick up stop for a microtransit service. In the afternoon, it’s a spot where trucks can pull over and drag in deliveries without double parking. At night, it’s a designated point where a for-hire car can meet passengers pouring out of the bar on the corner. “The best part is that cities can adjust based on what their goals are,” says Rogers.

And even though Rogers hasn’t actually approached any local governments about his personal zoning idea, cities are acting on similar notions: In October, Washington rolled out a year-long pilot program modeled on the concept of flex-space. Monday through Thursday, a stretch of Connecticut Avenue in the busy Dupont Circle neighborhood is a great place to shop or grab lunch. Thursday through Sunday, 10 pm to 7 pm, it’s one of the most zoo-like nightlife spots in the District.

That’s why the city reserves four blocks on those evenings for ridehailing pick-up and drop-off zones. “Folks were spilling out into the travel lane,” says Evian Patterson, the DC Department of Transportation’s director of parking and ground transportation. Now, just a few months on, he says the city has seen safety improvements. The traffic has gotten better, too. San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale have similar pilots in the works…

Or, faster transportation overall. In 2015, Chicago’s government reserved curbside lanes on a major downtown thoroughfare for buses only, painting them a bright red. In the following year, moving and stoping violations on the road fell. Standing and parking violations almost disappeared. Bus riders were getting to where they needed to go, closer to on time—and so was everyone else… (more)

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