Stories

Exclusive: Coord launches digital curb pilot challenge for cities

Illustration:Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Coord, a curb-management company, is offering its services at no charge to up to three cities that are trying to better manage — and monetize — curb space that is in constant demand.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing, e-commerce delivery trucks, on-demand food delivery, e-scooters, bikes and pedestrians — not to mention personal vehicles looking for street parking — are all competing for a limited amount of curb space, making that narrow stretch of the road congested, chaotic and even dangerous.

Details: Offering pilot programs free of charge is a way to let cities experiment with the "digital curb" platform that New York-based Coord, which is backed by Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs, has built to help cities digitally inventory, price, allocate and manage the curb.

  • Coord already operates in 15 North American cities including San Francisco, Seattle, Austin and Washington, D.C., and says the pilots would be a minimum of two months long, and are open to places like airports, college campuses and entertainment districts.
  • Applications are open until Feb. 14.
  • Pilots can include smart commercial loading zones, ride-hail management and passenger loading zones, and demand responsive pricing.

The big picture: The curb congestion problem is worsening as the on-demand mobility economy continues to grow, and other curb-management companies like curbFlow are offering pilot programs, too.

Since curbs are public rights of way, it's up to officials to get them under control while also considering the revenue that comes from parking meters, permits and tickets.

  • "Those are established revenue streams, so not only is there political resistance to giving up parking in a community, but there's financial resistance," said Coord CEO Stephen Smyth. "We think it's really important to provide a business model that a city can get behind to enable a city to generate revenue from new, post-parking curb uses."
  • For example, delivery fleets may be interested in paying a regular fee for better access to commercial loading zones instead of paying the parking tickets for illegally double parking.

Between the lines: Most cities haven't taken an inventory of curb space, nor do they have the data expertise to analyze how the curbs are being used throughout the day to make decisions about reducing parking supply or raising prices with demand.

  • They also have to balance commercial and residential needs with public safety needs by, for example, tracking where fire hydrants are located.
  • "At a city council meeting, that data is essential to explaining the trade off to the community to build support for re-allocating space from parking to scooter parking or a commercial loading zone," Smyth said.

Go deeper: Curbing roadside chaos