Research Projects

A Data-Driven Simulation Tool for Dynamic Curb Planning and Management

Project Funder: 
U.S. Department of Energy, Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO)
Principal Investigator(s): 
Project Timing: 
November 2020 to November 2023
Project Description: 

Project Budget: $2.9M (UW amount: $500k)

Lead Institution:

  • Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL)

Partner Institutions:

  • University of Washington, Urban Freight Lab (UFL)
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
  • Lacuna Technologies, Inc. (Lacuna)
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Summary:

Curbs are a critical interfacing layer between movement and arrival in urban areas---the layer at which people and goods transition from travel to arrival--representing a primary point of resistance when joining and leaving the transportation network. Traditionally, curb spaces are statically supplied, priced, and zoned for specific usage (e.g., paid parking, commercial/passenger loading, or bus stops). In response to the growing demand for curb space, some cities are starting to be more intentional about defining curb usage. Examples of curb demand include not only traditional parking and delivery needs, but today include things like curb access requirements generated by micro delivery services, active transportation modes, and transportation network companies. And now due to the pandemic, increased demand comes from food/grocery pick-up/drop-off activities, as well as outdoor business use of curb space (e.g., outdoor restaurant seating).

Heightened demand and changing expectations for finite curb resources necessitates the implementation of new and dynamic curb management capabilities so that local decision makers have the tools needed to improve occupancy and throughput while reducing the types of traffic disruptions that result from parking search and space maneuvering activities.  

However, municipalities and cities currently lack tools that allow them to simulate the effectiveness of potential dynamic curb management policies to understand how the available control variables (e.g. price or curb space supply) can be modified to influence curb usage outcomes. On the other hand, transportation authorities and fleet managers lack the needed signage or communication platforms to effectively communicate the availability of curb space for a specified use, price, and time at scales beyond centralized lots and garages.

This project aims to develop a city-scale dynamic curb use simulation tool and an open-source curb management platform. The envisioned simulation and management capabilities will include dynamically and concurrently controlling price, number of spaces, allowed parking duration, time of use or reservation, and curb space use type (e.g., dynamic curb space rezoning based on supply and demand).  

Project Objectives:

Project objectives include the following: 

  • Objective 1:  The team will develop a microscale curb simulation tool to model behavior of individual vehicles with different purposes at the curb along a blockface over time of day, accounting for price, supply, function, and maximum parking time. 
  • Objective 2: The team will integrate the microscale simulation tool with the LBNL’s mesoscale (city-scale) traffic simulation tool, BEAM, for simulating traffic impacts of alternative curb management strategies and their effects on citywide and regional traffic, in terms of (1) travel time, (2) throughput (people and goods) into and out of urban centers, (3) reduced energy use and emissions (from parking search and congestion), and (4) curb space utilization. 
  • Objective 3: The team will develop a dynamic curbspace allocation controller for various curb users, either municipal or commercial, for the purpose of a demonstration and pilot. 
  • Objective 4: The team will design, implement and test a curbside resource usage platform for fleet vehicles communications at commercial vehicle load zones (CVLZs), passenger load zones (PLZs), and transit stops. 
  • Objective 5: The team will perform demonstrations with stakeholder agencies and provide pathways to practice for promising curb allocation policies.
Project Keyword(s): 

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