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Driving Toward Sustainable Cities: Curbing emissions and improving sustainability through dynamic parking policies

Sustainable cities enhance both natural and urban environments, and our quality of life

This is the second blog post in an ongoing series highlighting Conduent’s commitment to sustainable transportation − the idea of cities, neighborhoods, and businesses working together to implement solutions that balance concerns about economic viability, environmental care, and social equity.

While sustainable parking might sound like an oxymoron, the curb is a precious resource. With rapid growth of e-commerce, including freight and delivery services, micro-mobility, and on-demand transportation, competition for the curb has never been fiercer.

The consequences of mismanagement of these resources are very real: congestion, rising emissions, dangerous conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, and disrupted and unreliable mass transit. Hardly anyone’s idea of “sustainable.”

Left unmanaged, these challenges will worsen as the result of reduced public funding and aging populations that face mobility challenges. It’s time for transportation professionals to reset and rethink curb policies based on societal needs.

The path toward sustainable curbside management need not be expensive. Employing data science and affordable systems integration can enable cities to understand curb lane demand and unlock a feedback loop to improve safety, promote access and fairness, and lead to sustainable operations.

“Asset Lite” data collection

City planners have large amounts of data already at their fingertips, and even heterogeneous datasets including citation issuance and the location, types, and hours of businesses can offer clues into curb use. Cities can fill gaps with active data collection techniques like image processing and machine learning to extract curb regulatory data. Further temporal and spatial occupancy sampling using sensors, cameras, mobile ALPR, and even surveys can significantly reduce data collection costs while accurately enabling predictive occupancy models.

Curb lane optimization

Loading zones are often requested and paid for by merchants, leading to loading zones that are too large or hours that don’t align with demand. This inefficiency poses challenges, creating congestion and illegal parking. But examining disparate data sources (including loading zone locations, loading zone sizes, occupancy, the proximity to businesses, nearby meter use, and citation issuance) may allow cities to prioritize decisions about the curb, installing loading zones where they’re most needed; tailoring loading zone hours, sizes, and policies to the businesses being served; and removing defunct loading zones.

Demand management

Static parking prices lead to cruising or circling for parking, traffic congestion, and dangerous conditions. By properly pricing the curb, cities can help commuters make decisions about whether to drive (or take mass transit, ride a bike, or use other alternatives), when to drive (to better plan visits for dates and times when congestion is lower), and where to park (often the cheapest parking options are just a block or two away).

Washington, DC (pdf) and Los Angeles have successfully priced the curb to shift demand and reduce congestion and emissions.

Demand management in the Penn Quarter/Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC

  • Reduced emissions with 8.74 fewer CO2 pounds per metered parking space and 855,000 fewer CO2 pounds annually within the program area
  • Simplified parking and 59% occupancy reduction among blocks initially at peak occupancy
  • Reduced double parking by 55%
  • Reduced stays from 66 minutes to 60 minutes 
  • Reduced time spent looking for parking by up to three minutes per trip
  • Improved access to on-street information with 15% more customers reporting that regulations and pricing were clear and easy to understand


Focused and fair parking enforcement

Data can be used to improve every nuance of the parking process with exacting policy recommendations, including parking enforcement. In addition to making operations more sustainable by properly aligning enforcement shifts with the likelihood of illegal parking, cities are working to make enforcement fairer. Chicago, for instance, has taken a multi-prong approach to improving enforcement for disadvantaged motorists by reexamining the distribution of enforcement personnel. Marginalized communities sometimes get overworked by parking enforcement offers, leading to a disproportionate number of tickets or fine amounts.

Rethinking enforcement zones and their prioritization can reduce the burden on underserved neighborhoods. “Day fines,” or setting parking fines based on the daily household income of vehicle owners, can reduce the burden on marginalized communities while ensuring fines remain a deterrent for illegal parking.

Forgiveness programs, payment plans, and community service in lieu of payment can also help dismantle systemic barriers to progression. Further, cities can promote access with expanded payment options for the unbanked.

Improving every aspect of curbside with data

The idea of sustainability goes far beyond impacts to the natural environment, but also must consider quality of life, economic considerations, and how people and objects move to, from and within communities. More than ever, transportation professionals and public policy experts can harness new technologies and processes create measurable impacts for their cities.

Ready to discover how Conduent Transportation can help your curb lane operations alleviate congestion and emissions while improving equity? You can read more about how Conduent Transportation is helping transform travel and solving transportation challenges around the globe by visiting us at, or contact us.



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