In war for street and curb space, Mayor and DOT Commissioner have a peace plan
‘Reimagining’ curb space, city plan will reduce congestion, help people move safely
NYC STREETSCAPE — Any resident of New York City knows we’re at war for space on the streets, and sometimes the curbs, in the fight between lowly pedestrians and bicyclists versus SUVs looking to park and trucks making deliveries. In a valiant effort to improve quality of life, Mayor Eric Adams and the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) have a peace plan. The mayor and Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez have launched a comprehensive effort to reimagine the city’s curb space — deploying innovative tools and creative, forward-looking strategies to make the city cleaner, greener, and healthier. With the explosion in home deliveries and growing range of transportation modes on city streets, curb space has become increasingly sought after, competitive, and chaotic. The “Curb Management Action Plan” includes 10 concrete steps to better design and manage the curb lane to reflect the increasingly wide range of needs of residents, workers, visitors, business owners, and all New Yorkers.
The action plan represents another step in the Adams administration’s efforts to reimagine the use of public space, supporting the goals laid out by the New New York Panel’s “Making New York Work for Everyone” action plan and Mayor Adams’ “PlanNYC: Getting Sustainability Done.”
“Activity on our streets is a sign of New York City’s vibrancy and strong economic recovery, something that can happen safely and sustainably,” said Mayor Adams. “With the Curb Management Action Plan, our administration is reimagining and better managing increasingly contested curbs to make our limited space work better for residents, businesses, and visitors. This effort will advance all of our administration’s work to improve New Yorkers’ quality of life and deliver a more vibrant, livable city.”
“New Yorkers’ ability to access our city’s precious public space is solidly linked to increased quality of life, community vibrancy, and economic activity,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “This is especially true of our over 12,000 miles of curb space. Through Smart Curbs and the initiatives set forward in our Action Plan, we will focus on the city’s underutilized real estate by testing new and community sourced ways to use curb space that enhances street activity, cleanliness, mobility, and fun.”
“This administration is reimagining the use of public space, and our streets are public spaces that should benefit all New Yorkers,” said DOT Commissioner Rodriguez. “The priorities in the Curb Management Action Plan will help reduce congestion, improve safety, and enhance New Yorkers’ quality of life. We look forward to working with communities across the city to pursue the plan’s long-term goals.”
“New York City’s curbs are tremendously valuable because of how they intersect with New Yorkers’ lives,” said Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting-Liu. “This plan is about reprioritizing our curbs for public benefit, ensuring they are used to their full potential. This is only the beginning of a truly innovative approach to rethinking public space, and I look forward to working with DOT to implement this action plan.”
“The Adams administration’s curb management action plan advances an important initiative to help make the most of New York City’s streetscape in a safe and innovative way,” said “New” New York Executive Director B.J. Jones. “This suite of strategies lays the groundwork for innovative neighborhood approaches to effectively balance a range of opportunities from bike share and outdoor dining to public art, waste containerization, and more.”
The 10-point action plan includes:
“Smart Curbs” Pilot: Working with business improvement districts (BIDs) and other community partners, DOT will select neighborhoods in which to reimagine curb space from scratch. In pilot neighborhoods, DOT will evaluate current curb regulations, identify community needs at the curb, and test new uses and technologies that make access easier — mitigating traffic congestion and double parking.
Curb uses may include:
- Microhubs and loading zones, providing dedicated space for commercial vehicles to reduce double parking;
- Public space improvements, including street furniture, plantings, pop-up markets, community art, delivery worker relief stations, and waste containerization; and
- Expanded bike parking and corrals, in accordance with delivery worker needs.
The pilot will also include tests of new technologies to maximize the effectiveness of other curb management tools and most efficiently utilize curb space. One possible technology that will be tested is cameras, for example, which could help to monitor occupancy and rewrite curb regulations based on data showing when residents and businesses most often use curb space.
The Columbus Avenue BID in Manhattan will be the first “Smart Curbs” neighborhood, launching this fall. Many of the densest and busiest commercial areas of the city with the greatest need for innovation at the curb have a BID that can provide local expertise and public space management. DOT will use a data-driven approach with public feedback to employ new curb uses like loading zones, bike parking, carshare, public space improvements, and more, while deploying a demand-responsive approach to adjust parking meter rates, with the goal of improving the overall transportation experience in each area.
Prioritizing Curb Uses to Meet Neighborhood Needs: Effective curb management requires prioritizing curb functions that reflect local context. DOT will develop and publish a curb management hierarchy to inform the public and aid planning decisions. The guide will help prioritize curb usage across the city based on street or neighborhood styles, consistent with the city’s transportation goals and needs.
Make Home and Business Deliveries Safer, Sustainable, and More Efficient: In response to the tremendous growth of e-commerce, DOT is identifying ways to address freight-related safety, congestion, pollution, and quality-of-life concerns through smarter curb management. Strategies include incentivizing off-hour deliveries, establishing dedicated loading zones, and creating microhubs where goods can be transferred from larger freight vehicles to smaller low- or no-emissions vehicles.
Pilot the East Coast’s First Low-Emission Zone: DOT will examine ways to require and/or incentivize the use of low- and zero-emission trucks through the creation of low-emission zones in areas with the highest concentration of truck traffic and the worst public health outcomes. A pilot program for one or more locations will be implemented in a community disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Designate Curb Space to Make Passenger Pickups and Drop-Offs Easier: The surge in for-hire vehicle trips has created additional competition for curb space, often resulting in parking regulation violations like improperly occupying taxi stands, double parking, and unsafe pickups and drop-offs. To delineate existing space more clearly, DOT will establish dedicated pickup/drop-off zones for for-hire vehicles in high-volume locations. DOT will also continue to work with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to expand loading zones for Access-A-Ride paratransit vehicles in key locations and update its parking design standards to reflect the U.S. Access Board’s Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines.
Expand Bike Parking to Improve Convenience: Each day brings roughly 550,000 bicycle trips in New York City — more than triple the number from 15 years ago. The city has also seen a rapid increase in the use of other micro-mobility devices. In addition to installing thousands of new bike racks on sidewalks, DOT is installing bike corrals in the curb lane to provide higher-capacity parking. DOT will also solicit proposals for vendors to pilot secure bike parking facilities, including in the curb lane.
Provide Space for Outdoor Dining, Waste Containerization, Street Furniture, and Other Public Realm Improvements: DOT will expand use of the curb lane for sidewalk widenings, curb extensions, bus boarding platforms, plantings, public art, and the Street Seats program, which creates small-scale public spaces adjacent to the sidewalk. DOT will allocate curb space to support implementation of “Dining Out NYC” — the nation’s largest outdoor dining program — and the New York City Department of Sanitation’s ongoing efforts to containerize waste to improve pedestrian travel and mitigate rodents. Working with the New York City Housing Authority, DOT will also provide curb space for the “Clean Curbs for All” pilot to use large, on-site waste containers at public housing developments, including in the curb lane.
Test New Technologies for Remote and Flexible Curb Management and Enforcement: DOT will pilot and implement proven and emerging technologies for more efficient, data-driven, and user-friendly curb management. This includes adopting pay-by-plate parking meters, partnering with the MTA to install enforcement cameras to discourage double parking and blocking bus stops and bike lanes, and using sensors or cameras that provide data on curb usage.
Price On-Street Parking to Encourage Commercial Activity: DOT will expand the use of parking meters and develop pricing mechanisms to support policy goals such as safety and sustainability. Pricing parking closer to market rates, for example, will support small businesses by improving turnover at parking meters.
DOT will also create a demand-based pricing pilot program that will include technology that adjusts rates in real time based on demand and the time of day. Working with the New York City Department of Finance, DOT will update fine structures for curb violations to make enforcement of curb regulations more effective.
Charge for Non-Transportation Users of Curb Space: The curb lane is often occupied by private uses unrelated to mobility, safety, or public space. Pricing is an important tool to discourage unnecessary or excessive use of space while reflecting the high value of the curb lane. DOT will develop a framework to charge more generally for street occupancy, starting by advocating for state legislation that would authorize a wider ability to price occupancy of the curb. For example, the Dining Out NYC program will allow restaurants to use the roadway for fixed per-square-foot fees, based on geography.
“The pandemic showed us there is a need to reimagine public spaces in our city and this new initiative is doing just that,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “The “Curb Management Action Plan” is a comprehensive, multifaceted strategy to manage curb space while mitigating the effects of air pollution, traffic congestion, and other quality-of-life issues that have a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of our residents and families. I want to thank Mayor Eric Adams and DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez for their collective work on this important effort.”
“Battling congestion starts at better managing our curb, and the Department of Transportation is taking important steps to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to it,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “Addressing the impact of e-commerce on our streets, piloting the Smart Curbs program, better streamlining for-hire pick-ups and drop-offs and expanding data-driven, efficient and effective curb management technologies will be key to achieving a better streetscape. I applaud the Commissioner for taking these steps.”
“How we manage our street space must evolve to match the rapidly changing ways New Yorkers are enjoying and moving about our city,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “The Curb Management Action Plan is a big step in the right direction. Prioritizing pedestrian safety, waste containerization, bike infrastructure, and greener transportation options are essential to achieving a more sustainable city. I thank Mayor Adams and DOT Commissioner Rodriguez for this work, and I look forward to continuing the momentum.”
“Our city streets belong to everyone — drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, area residents and more. They should not only be safe for all to use, but should be hubs of innovation when it comes to ensuring we’re getting the most out of these spaces,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Here in Queens, we are committed to building a cleaner, greener and healthier borough, and I look forward to working collaboratively with the DOT and all our neighborhood partners to determine ways to better meet the needs of our communities through the Curb Management Action Plan.”
“New Yorkers shouldn’t curb your enthusiasm for the curb management plan,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers. “For too long, New Yorkers have demanded better management of the streets and curbside. Today the city is taking action to give New Yorkers more tools to manage the curbside and achieve the city they deserve.”
“Curb space is a finite and essential public resource, and proper — or improper — management has vast impact on street safety,” said New York City Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, chair, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “Managing it well requires careful planning and broad stakeholder engagement. I appreciate DOT’s focus on innovating at the curb, and I look forward to monitoring the results of this effort and partnering with DOT to ensure equitable investments in our streets citywide.”
“There are promising ideas in the curbs plan,” said New York City Councilmember Gale A. Brewer. “Direct community engagement in multiple languages is essential for the plan to succeed. I look forward to seeing the results of the pilot and hope its successes are replicated citywide.”
“Our sidewalks and curbs are the most significant public space we have, and caring for them in both common-sense innovative ways is vital to the city’s economic growth, our transportation needs, and personal health,” said New York City Councilmember Jennifer Gutiérrez. “I’m excited to see DOT taking on this project that will equip us with more tools to improve every districts quality of life.”
“From our own 34th Avenue and Woodside Avenue Open Streets, to our car-free school plazas, we’ve seen how we can use our curb space for so much more than parking,” said New York City Councilmember Shekar Krishnan. “I welcome the city-wide launch of the Department of Transportation’s ‘Curb Management Action Plan,’ which prioritizes the well-being of the community, advances sustainability, and reflects how important public space is to New York City.”
“Implementing the Curb Management Action Plan can be a pivotal step to reshaping public spaces to achieve a healthier and cleaner city,” said New York City Councilmember Julie Menin. “Commercial and residential corridors are precious in dense neighborhoods and through these initiatives, we are reimagining our city’s curb space to ensure it serves as a dynamic resource to enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Mayor Adams and DOT Commissioner Rodriguez are instituting creative ways to utilize our public spaces to meet the needs of our communities.”
“Our curb space is highly underutilized,” said New York City Councilmember Lincoln Restler. “From outdoor dining to waste containerization to more efficient deliveries and safe cycling and expanded pedestrian areas, I hope this initiative is a step forward in returning curbs to the community.”
“Streets and sidewalks are important public spaces that must meet a dynamic set of needs that serve all users,” said New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera. “I am looking forward to the Department of Transportation’s comprehensive plan to reimagine our curb space to create a more accessible, safe, and enjoyable city. This undertaking will improve quality of life and vibrancy across the five boroughs.”
“The many adjustments we made during the pandemic to save New York City and it’s economy allowed us an opportunity to reimagine our streetscape and evolve how we move forward in a post-pandemic world,” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez. “We now have an opportunity to sift through what worked and what didn’t work, what needs tweaking and what needs modifications, as we find bold new ways to reconceptualize what our outdoor spaces look like, such as incorporating roadside dining through part of the year, and how we can best create a more accessible and sociable city.”
“UPS supports a holistic approach to the growing curbside issues in New York due to ecommerce,” said Axel Carrion, vice president of state government and public affairs, UPS. We are committed to maintaining our best-in-class service while helping the Adams administration and NYCDOT find solutions to curbside management that provide positive outcomes for residents, businesses, and commuters.”
“As a member of the New New York Panel I am pleased to see Mayor Adams and his team focus on this important issue and how to prioritize what happens at the curb and the impacts it all has on our neighborhoods,” said Fred Cerullo, President/CEO Grand Central Partnership and New New York panelist. “I look forward working with the Administration and our midtown east owners and businesses as more details unfold on ways to make better sense on how our streets and sidewalks operate, while we continue to support economic activity in our commercial districts while creating a better pedestrian experience for all those who live, work and visit our area.”
“The Adams administration is taking critical steps to rethink how the city can leverage curb space beyond simply parking for automobiles,” said “New” New York Panel Co-Chair Dan Doctoroff. “Competition for the curb necessitates a transformation a rethinking of the way we use our city’s streetscape to achieve three goals: Get people where they need to go faster; create more room to improve public spaces on our streets; and, potentially, raise revenues to enhance mobility and pay for public realm improvements.”
“MAS has long advocated for the elevation of the public realm in the consciousness of New Yorkers and elected officials,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president, Municipal Art Society of New York. “With so many critical aspects of city life now vying for the same increasingly limited space on our streets and sidewalks, it is time for a holistic, innovative, and collaborative effort to ensure public safety and support the new paradigm of competing uses and needs. The Department of Transportation’s Curb Management Action Plan is a needed step in that direction.”
“In New York, the vast majority of curb space is allocated to unmetered parking by default, sometimes taking up the majority of the space on the street and squeezing everyone else onto the sidewalk,” said Corey Hannigan, active transportation program manager, Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “This represents a massive, citywide transfer of public space over to private vehicle storage, and despite the desperate need for curb-space for people on foot, bike, bus, or delivery truck, a sense pervades among the public that any other use comes at the expense of ‘losing parking.’ But during the pandemic, the need for outdoor public space, alternative transportation options, and increased home deliveries pushed us to finally reconsider the potential for this space. The city successfully repurposed curb space for outdoor dining, public ‘parklets,’ bike lanes, bus lanes (and boarding platforms), loading zones, and an in-street waste containerization pilot. In the 2021 Streets Plan, the NYCDOT Commissioner said, ‘it is essential that we reclaim the streets of New York for its people.’ The Tri-State Transportation Campaign supports this new Curb Management Action Plan, which we see as a continuation of that effort.”
“Curb space is one of our most important public goods in New York City, but today, much of it is dedicated solely to the storage and movement of private automobiles,” said Danny Harris, executive director, Transportation Alternatives; and New New York panelist. “The city’s new curb management plan will turn curb space into loading zones, public outdoor space, bike corrals, and more — all projects critical to reaching our NYC 25×25 vision to reprioritize streets for people. We look forward to this program’s success in Manhattan and then expansion throughout the five boroughs.”
“This is a promising fresh look at how we can best use our precious curb space,” said Jessica Lappin, president, Alliance for Downtown New York and New New York Panelist. “The Downtown Alliance has been proud to implement many of these measures already, like waste containerization, free bike parking, and using planters to green our streets. Looking ahead, we are particularly interested in working with the mayor’s team to explore new innovative strategies to reduce placard parking and better manage deliveries downtown.”
“We’ve spoken with dozens of cities and they all agree — comprehensive, strategic curb management is the key to unlocking a city’s potential,” said Sara Lind, co-executive director, Open Plans. “The Curb Management Action Plan is proof that DOT is serious about unlocking New York City’s. These ten actions will build off past successes to further rebalance curb uses, reduce car emissions, price the curb according to its real value, and modernize the way New York thinks about curb space. We thank Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriguez for their visionary approach to our city’s streets. Now, how our local leaders respond will be just as important — we will need collaboration from councilmembers and officials in every neighborhood to ensure the success of a curb plan that is as diverse and versatile as New York City itself.”
“This forward-thinking action plan outlines tangible steps to improve curb management that would benefit all New Yorkers,” said Stacey Matlen, senior vice president, Innovation, Partnership for New York City. “We expect that implementation of these measures would result in substantial reductions in congestion, double-parking and emissions, and important advancements in safety. Since its founding in 2018, the Transit Tech Lab has worked to spur progress in public transit and the urban streetscape through public-private collaboration and the deployment of innovative technology, and we are delighted to see those impactful approaches reflected throughout this plan.”
“As a bustling neighborhood constantly searching for ways to improve, Downtown Brooklyn welcomes the Curb Optimization Action Plan which will revamp our streetscape and better serve the vast needs of our community,” said Regina Myer, president, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership; and New New York panelist. “Not only will the plan dedicate space for bike racks, rideshare pick-up and drop-off points, sidewalk expansion, parking, outdoor dining, and other public realm improvements, but it will also improve safety and environmental sustainability — values that the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership champions in its work. We thank Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriguez for supporting Downtown Brooklyn’s infrastructure and we are excited to see how the Curb Optimization Action Plan transforms the city and Downtown Brooklyn.”
“We are excited to continue our work with DOT to ensure that New York’s streetscape and transportation infrastructure run as efficiently as possible,” said Hayley Prim, senior policy manager, Uber. “We are committed to advancing smart and sustainable urban mobility solutions, and are eager to partner with the city to deploy strategies that incorporate best practices for safe and convenient passenger loading and unloading while helping to optimize curb space.”
“The Adams administration continues reimagining New York’s streets for the better. From the Green Rides Initiative to priority pick-up and drop-off zones for rideshare vehicles, policies like these will help usher in a cleaner, electric future,” said Frank Reig, co-founder & CEO, Revel. “As a New York-born company, Revel is proud to support our city in achieving these ambitious goals by providing the public fast charging infrastructure that will ease the transition to EVs for everyone.”
“In a city as dense as New York, curb space is an extremely valuable commodity. These measures, including dedicated pickup/drop-off zones for for-hire vehicles in high-volume locations, will help create more resilient streets that better serve both the needs of their communities and the larger public good,” said Caroline Samponaro, vice president, for micromobility and transit public policy, Lyft. “Through our partnership with DOT, Citi Bike has become a model for efficient use of the curb, taking up roughly half a percent of curb space in its service area while enabling more than ten times as many rides per day as a parking spot for cars.”
“As a hub for innovation in New York City, Union Square looks forward to partnering with NYC DOT on innovations in the public realm that will improve experiences for businesses, residents and visitors such as its Curb Management Action Plan,” said Julie Stein, executive director, Union Square Partnership. “Investments like these are key to advancing the goals of the USQNext Vision Plan, and we look forward to NYC DOT working with local stakeholders to address neighborhood needs as the action plan is implemented across the city.”
“Although it is often overlooked, the curb space around the city is finite and has to serve a multitude of uses for the city to function every day,” said Rachel Weinberger, Peter W. Herman chair for transportation, Regional Plan Association. “We must rationalize the curb to make its use as efficient as possible and prioritize the safety, accessibility, and health of New Yorkers in the process. We applaud Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriguez for the smart reforms in their Curb Management Action Plan and look forward to working with them to implement them.”
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment