Cities Explore New Curb Management Strategies During COVID-19 Pandemic, 2021

  • Featured Overview
  • Date Launched: Jan 27, 2021

Summary

Transportation for America released “COVID and the Curb”, providing case studies and policy recommendations regarding curb management during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.While curb management has been an important idea with city officials for many years now, the need for curb management became more evident in 2020 so that pedestrians could safely practice social distancing.

Below is a short overview of some of the curbside management initiatives that are featured in “COVID and the Curb”:

  1. Boston has expedited its permitting review process to more quickly allow restaurants and businesses to serve customers outdoors in parklet-like areas. The city also allocated $200,000 to a ramp program to address accessibility issues for people with disabilities.
  2. The Downtown Development Authority in Ann Arbor, Michigan collaborated with the city’s government to waive City Sidewalk Occupancy Permit fees for all small businesses so that they could use the sidewalk for seating. On top of this, forty restaurants have been allowed to also use on-street parking as seating space for their customers.
  3. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has started a Temporary Emergency Transit Lanes program designed to mitigate congestion for essential workers and other transit-dependent San Franciscans. This allows buses to continue to operate at similar levels of frequency while allowing customers to practice distancing when using transit.

After providing many case studies of curb management strategies, “COVID and the Curb” lists different local and state policy ideas such as:

  1. Prioritizing curb and street space for transit and vulnerable road users.
  2. Streamlining permitting processes to increase curb access to small business owners.
  3. Coordinating curb management efforts across city agencies.
  4. Updating land use policy.

COVID-19 has helped demonstrate the need  for greater curb management in cities. In turn, many cities have responded with  innovative curb management initiatives that have helped to advance their multimodal infrastructure.

Last updated March 1, 2021

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