App cuts double parking by delivery drivers in DC

by Robbie Webber

Like many cities, Washington, DC, has a problem with double parking and delivery vehicles blocking crosswalks and bus and bike lanes. One experiment in curb management showed good results during its trial run from August to October. Using the curbFlow app, delivery drivers can book an appointment for a loading zone up to 30-minutes in advance. Although taxi and ridesharing companies were not allowed to log on to the app, drivers were allowed to use the loading zones.

Double parking and illegal U-turns went down 64 percent in the nine zones where it was tried. Delivery drivers like it as well, as they reported that they received fewer parking tickets and avoided circling the block looking for a legal spot. Drivers were able to pull up next to or close to a merchant instead of walking from distant parking or worrying about blocking traffic, which also can endanger pedestrians and bicyclists. Merchants appreciated the service because they were able to more efficiently and accurately plan for deliveries and pickups.

The research project removed parking spaces to create loading zones for both commercial vehicles and private vehicles operating in a commercial capacity such as picking up for an online food delivery service or other online delivery platform commercial activities. According to DDOT, more than 6,350 drivers from 900 companies registered for the service. Drivers made 15,500 reservations for pick-ups or drop-offs over the three-month period with about 350 operators using the app each day.

The data gathered by the app will be used by DC policy makers as they formulate curb management strategies in the future. Knowing when, where, and by which services loading zones are used will be helpful to both support local businesses and assure that roads are used efficiently.

Highlights from the research project reported by DDOT include:

  • Incidents of double parking and illegal U-turns decreased by an estimated 64 percent in immediate proximity to the curbFlow pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) zones.
  • On-demand delivery (such as online food delivery services), freight and parcel deliveries lasted an average of seven to 11 minutes, while rideshare and taxi PUDO activity lasted less than two and a half minutes on average.
  • On-demand deliveries were the most frequent users of the PUDO zones, followed by freight and parcel deliveries.

Although the experiment has ended in DC, and the loading spots have been returned to regular parking, curbFlow is now beginning a 12-month pilot in Columbus, OH. Whereas use of the app was free in DC, the Columbus project will charge drivers to use the app after a one-month free trial.

Robbie Webber is a Senior Associate at SSTI.