This Tech Could Stop Drivers from Double-Parking and Blocking Bike Lanes - Streetsblog

A new pilot project launches today that could change the way American cities do on-street parking — and finally stop delivery drivers from double-parking in the bike lane to boot.

In partnership with curb management company Coord, the city of Omaha will install five smart loading zones in hot areas that drivers can reserve on their cell phones before they pull up to make a quick delivery or drop off a taxi passenger. The price of the meters will adjust dynamically based on demand, and will even hold a space for a driver for a while when she’s located within a mile of her desired spot.

Omaha’s pilot will start by offering drivers free parking, simply to gather data about which curbs are in the highest demand, but the city hopes the program could become a revenue source in the future. And once the city has a functional dynamic pricing program in place, it plans to more aggressively ticket drivers who don’t use the convenient new program.

“As deliveries and ride hailing become more and more ingrained into our city’s street culture, we need more tools to understand who’s using this curb,” said Ken Smith, Omaha’s parking and mobility manager. “Coord will help us get that — and once we get that data, we can start layering on that enforcement.”

In the other cities that will pilot Coord’s tech in the coming months – Aspen, Nashville, and West Palm Beach — enforcement and payments will be a part of the recipe from day one. Coord also supplies local traffic officers with app-based tools to quickly ticket drivers and educate them on how to use the app; the app allows a driver to notify law enforcement if he or she arrives at a reserved space only to find it taken.

Coord also hopes that the appeal of consistently available loading zones near their destinations will incentivize drivers to follow the rules.

“The carrot is, even if they’re paying to park, they know they have a place to unload, which many drivers right now simply don’t,” said Dawn Miller, Coord’s head of Policy and Partnerships. “Enforcement is the stick, but it’s not the focus. Amazon drivers don’t typically park in a bike lane because they don’t care about cyclists; it’s because cities just don’t have enough loading space — because they’ve just devoted too much of their space to private on-street parking of private cars. There is enough parking for delivery trucks that really need it if we fix that.”

The tech could help eliminate a perennial danger for road users: double-parked drivers blocking the street, forcing the vehicles behind the scofflaws to pass out of their lane and potentially collide with oncoming traffic. Since the vast majority of American city roads have no true protected cycling infrastructure, that’s a particularly big deal for cyclists; especially in busy cities like New York, drivers illegally parked in the driving lane are a frequent ingredient in the deaths of bikers.

“Cyclists are definitely the most sensitive to curb use. Anytime you have a block in the road, they’re the ones who are going to struggle the most,” said Smith. “If we can get those delivery vehicles next to the curb, that’s a benefit to everybody.”