Curbing Curb Woes: Improving Curb Space Strategies

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MTI researchers examine curb planning and management to look at how curb access and use has shifted in recent years
July 18, 2022
San José, CA

SAN JOSÉ, CA – July 18, 2022 – In recent years, innovative mobility and shifts in travel and consumption behavior are changing how people access and use the curb. Shared mobility—the shared use of a vehicle, bicycle, scooter, or other mode—coupled with outdoor dining, curbside pick-up, and robotic delivery are creating new needs related to the planning, management, and enforcement of curb access. The latest Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) research, Managing the Curb: Understanding the Impacts of On-Demand Mobility on Public Transit, Micromobility, and Pedestrians, examines curb planning and management from several angles, such as safety, social equity, and multimodal connections.

This research employs a multi-method approach to identify the changing needs for curb space management and how to meet these needs through new planning and implementation policies and strategies. The authors conducted 23 interviews—covering public, private, and non-profit sector perspectives—and surveyed 1,033 curb users and 241 drivers (taxi, transportation network company, and public transportation).

The study found that if shared mobility is not properly planned, it could negatively impact curb access for all users. Additionally, different users reported notably different concerns. For example, TNC and taxi drivers are more concerned about street parking and locating their passengers while other users are more concerned about micromobility blocking curb access.

“Most respondents (70%) in our surveys felt that access to the curb should be prioritized for certain vulnerable populations such as older adults, persons with disabilities, and pedestrians,” explain the study’s authors. “Collectively, the results of the literature review, expert interviews, user survey, and driver survey inform potential curb space strategies. These strategies ensure we are reaching all populations of users.”

Increased understanding of shared mobility’s impacts can help improve curb space planning and design. Curb space management practices (e.g., allocating locations for TNC pick-ups and drop-offs, leveraging pricing strategies) can improve curb space access and make curb space safe and accessible for all users. Public agencies can use the “MARVEL” framework developed for this study (as defined below) to:

  1. ‘M’ake a Curb Space Plan that considers accessibility, management of multiple modes, environmental impacts, social equity, and more.
  2. ‘A’llocate Curb Space by using competitive (e.g., first-come first-serve) or non competitive (e.g., lotteries) process to allocate curbspace.
  3. ‘R’egulate Curb Space Access by leveraging management strategies that can determine access by mode, operator, and/or operational characteristics.
  4. ‘V’alue Curb Space ​​through various strategies to charge for access that help manage demand and raise revenue.
  5. ‘E’nforce Curb Space Use to ensure that curb spaces are used as intended.
  6. ‘L’earn from Curb Space Use through performance metrics and data to evaluate existing curb space use to support local goals.

Increased understanding of shared mobility’s impacts can help improve curb space planning and design. Each step of the MARVEL framework and the associated strategies can help stakeholders better understand and improve curb design, access, and management to improve curb access and safety for everyone.


At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nations’ transportation system. Through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer, we help create a connected world. Founded in 1991, MTI is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants, including those made available by the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB1). MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

Dr. Susan Shaheen is an MTI Research Associate, a Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) at UC Berkeley. Dr. Elliot Martin is an MTI Research Associate and a research and development engineer at TSRC. Adam Cohen is an MTI Research Associate and a senior research manager at TSRC. Jacquelyn Broader is a survey researcher at TSRC. Richard Davis, MUP, is a transportation consultant at Steer Group.

Media Contact:

Dr. Hilary Nixon
MTI Deputy Executive Director
O: 408-924-7564

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