How parking can help create sustainable, healthy and resilient places in the UK

March 15, 2022 Jade Neville

The changes in transport and leisure behaviour during the pandemic have been dramatic. Consequently, there is a sense of renewed focus on how space, and especially kerbside space, is used.

One issue placing pressure on kerbside space is the increased demand for home deliveries. The rapid rise of fast “store-to-door” services has led to a new era, in which logistical services are now competing against retail. The massive shift in consumer behaviour has had a significant impact on our kerbside use and it shows no signs of slowing down, with an expectation that delivery demand will double by 2030, according to a recent report published by the Centre for London.

At the same time, transport strategies and local government plans are aiming to reclaim streets for people, by implementing initiatives that will help create sustainable, healthy, and resilient cities and towns. Greater Manchester’s “Streets for All” approach is a notable example. This city’s approach focuses on tackling congestion and air pollution by improving public transport services, interchanges between transport modes, and making walking and cycling more desirable options.

As local authorities look to tackle their most pressing economic and environmental issues, now is the time to rethink the way we manage and prioritise the use of kerbside infrastructure.

The Centre for London’s report highlights key recommendations for alleviating delivery pressure and congestion within the city. The recommendations include the introduction of pay-per-mile road user charging schemes that give priority to delivery and service vehicles and embrace dynamic and digitalised kerb management. This would give delivery vehicles safer and more reliable access to the kerb. 

While each local authority has different priorities and objectives for optimising kerbside management, a common challenge is the competing use for space across multiple modes of transport. Transport for the North, a coalition of 19 local authorities and business leaders from the North of England recently published a Major Roads Report. The report detailed that 97% of personal journeys in the North of England use highways and of those, 61% travel by car or taxi, with only 26% walking, 9% traveling by bus and 2% cycling.  

The car still has a majority share of road use; thus, parking can help support local authorities in achieving a behavioural shift. Understanding what space there is, and its current use, will be key to implementing change and managing its impact. 

A few key steps to keep in mind include:

  • Take stock of kerbside space. This is critical to unlocking its potential. While this prospect may seem daunting at first, capturing kerbside assets and regulatory information need not be expensive or difficult. Documenting kerbside inventory can be accomplished through a mix of processes, including automated digitisation of existing data, roaming camera mapping, using machine learning to capture restrictions, and surveys using ambulatory software. 
  • Provide robust outreach. As local authorities seek to optimise kerbside management; successful public engagement is a must. This outreach should include communicating project goals and benefits, soliciting feedback, providing status updates, and sharing data. All of these efforts encourage public buy-in for kerbside reinvention initiatives.
  • Understand demand. Existing data sources such as surveys, vehicles detected using automated number plate recognition (ANPR), along with payment machines and mobile app transactions, can help paint a picture of kerbside demand. So too can the proximity of loading bays to businesses and historical penalty charge notice (PCN) information. However, to truly understand demand, these existing data sources should be augmented with stakeholder and public insights, as well as telematics and computer vision data to determine: 
    • Demand by vehicle type or mode on a space-by-space, moment-by-moment basis 
    • The duration of stays 
    • Competing interests for the kerbside, including demand for paid parking, micro-mobility use, and pedestrian activity   

Understanding Demand-based Pricing

This is where demand-based pricing can help. Utilising a demand-based pricing scheme as a tool to influence driver parking behaviours could help achieve cleaner, greener, and less congested areas. Local authorities can incentivise drivers by providing out-of-town parking areas with links to public transport and other active travel options, and by offering an attractive tariff to promote parking in these areas.  Similarly, higher parking charges can be used to deter parking within congested town centres. This allows authorities to prioritise these spaces for more favourable user groups, such as active travel, shared car schemes and public transport.

Varying parking charges by location and time of day creates availability and flexibility, which allows the space created to be repurposed to accommodate modal shifts in transportation. 

Parking provisions are a powerful tool in influencing change and are vital in supporting wider transport strategies. Whether the focus is to better accommodate changing pressures on kerbside use, or to improve air quality (or both), intuitive demand-based pricing has a part to play. 

We are collaborating with our UK clients to increase digitalisation and innovate interaction with the kerbside. Local authorities seeking to improve kerbside management should contact us at transportation@conduent.com or visit www.conduenttransportation.com to learn more.

About the Author

Jade Neville

Jade Neville serves as Head of User Experience, UK Parking for Conduent Transportation

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