Future ready kerbside: Creating places that put people first

By Graham Pointer | Future Ready Lead, WSP

Uber and WSP have partnered to release a new white paper – Future Ready Kerbside – which examines what we need to do today to ensure our kerbsides and streetscapes enable the places people want now and into the future.

Using two case studies to bring the recommendations to life, the white paper examines how the kerbside is allocated and managed during the day and evening and the impacts that has on people and place. It then envisions how these kerbsides could be better used to achieve what we want for these places by supporting future transport technology, higher levels of public amenity, and greater access for people and goods to support local businesses.

WSP’s Future Ready™ Lead Graham Pointer said that the way we manage and allocate the kerbside has a significant impact on achieving what we want from our places, on how people move within them and enjoy the public realm.

“Despite its importance, the kerbside is often overlooked as a passive infrastructure asset reflecting legacy policies, not used productively to realise a vision for the future of the place,” he said.

“But there are steps that cities, governments, local businesses and communities can take today to create more liveable places that embrace the opportunity future transport provides.

“What this white paper reveals is that we need to act now if we are truly serious about creating great places for people now and into the future, and how we manage and allocate the kerbside is a crucial part of that."

General Manager for Uber Australia and New Zealand, Dom Taylor, said that demand for the kerbside was already at a premium, and this will only increase as transport technologies shift to a shared, electric and automated future.

“Unless governments, communities and businesses work together, decisions made decades ago will continue to shape the future of our urban spaces,” he said.

“Take for example the amount of space unquestionably dedicated to parked cars, which prevents people travelling in more environmentally friendly ways. This results in a lack of enjoyable public space and inhibits the growth and ambitions of local businesses by failing to provide for alfresco dining or micro freight.

“With demand for shared transport, like rideshare, and food and light goods delivery only set to grow, how we allocate the in-demand kerbside will shape how liveable our cities are and how quickly we can embrace the benefits of new transport technologies.

“At Uber, we believe future transport technology presents a huge opportunity to improve the liveability of our cities and lead us to a zero emissions future, but we’ve got to get the basics right. Making the kerb work harder is a great place to start.”

Key Recommendations from the Future Ready Kerbside white paper include:

  1. Co-design the vision for places in partnership with the community, businesses and governments. A shared vision is a crucial first step requiring active, collaborative engagement. How the kerbside if allocated and managed is an integral aspect of achieving the vision.

  2. Take a people and place first approach so that new mobility is an enabler and not a detractor to realising the co-designed vision. Too often city leaders view new mobility as a threat. The conversation needs to be flipped to consider what we want from our places and then how new mobility can best support that vision.

  3. Dynamically manage and allocate the kerbside to use it more productively and achieve the vision for the place. Emerging technology can be harnessed to better manage the kerbside. For example, during COVID-19 lockdowns, dynamic signage could have been used to change kerbside allocation to allow for pick up/drop off spaces during peak food delivery times.

  4. Move from general parking to pick up/drop off for people and goods to improve kerbside productivity and access to local places. We need the kerbside to work harder to enable more people to access local businesses and services, and for businesses to send and receive deliveries. This means restricting the use of general parking, such as two- and four-hour zones, in preference for pick up/drop off zones for cars and micro-mobility.

  5. Prioritise access for all ages and abilities to our local places, supported by funding for local infrastructure. Too often our places are considered in isolation. Funding decisions and the scope of local plans must encompass local infrastructure like wider footpaths and bike lanes to support people to access their local places, while reinforcing the role of transit as the backbone of the transport network.

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