When we think about the future of transport, we have a clear vision of a future that is shared, electric and automated.
To get there though, our cities and urban infrastructure need to also support that vision. And how we use one of our most in-demand parts of urban infrastructure – the kerb – is a great place to start.
That’s why Uber partnered with WSP to produce Future Ready Kerbside, a new report which looks at two case studies – Crown St in Sydney and Onehunga Mall in Auckland – and asks, how can we create a kerbside that puts people first and helps unlock the potential of our cities?
Demands for urban kerbside in Australia and New Zealand’s major cities is already at a premium. It will only face increased demand in the future from shared, electric and automated transport advances, increasing urban freight including food delivery, and the growing need for liveable public spaces as our cities densify.
Yet for decades, when planners have looked at our streets they’ve prioritised the movement and parking of cars above all else. And as we saw during COVID, when sudden changes in demand occur, our street infrastructure also isn’t very adaptable.
Using the two case studies, Crown St and Onehunga Mall, Future Ready Kerbside, paints a picture of what a kerbside that supports future transport technologies, while also creating greener, more liveable public spaces looks like. It also makes a series of recommendations based on Shared Mobility Principles that Australian and New Zealand governments can use to help create kerbsides that put people and place first.
The impacts of COVID-19, from how we commute to the need for more outdoor dining, can be a catalyst for cities to re-look at how we design our kerbs. Now is the time to test new ideas with communities so we have kerbs that support the future we want for our urban spaces, rather than one that reinforces old technology and behaviours.
We think technology presents a huge opportunity to improve the liveability of our cities and lead us to a zero emissions future, but we’ve got to get the basics right. Making the kerb work harder – and smarter – is needed to help realise this vision.
Key Recommendations from the Future Ready Kerbside white paper include:
- Co-design the vision for places in partnership with the community, businesses and governments. Success will only come if local communities and businesses all are open to challenging the status quo, considering evidence, and working towards a shared vision.
- Take a people and place first approach so that new mobility is an enabler and not a detractor to realising the co-designed vision. Too often city leaders view new mobility as a threat. The conversation needs to be flipped to consider what we want from our places and then how new mobility can best support that vision.
- Dynamically manage and allocate the kerbside to use it more productively and achieve the vision for the place. Emerging technology can be harnessed to better manage the kerbside. For example, during COVID-19 lockdowns, dynamic signage could have been used to change kerbside allocation to allow for pick up/drop off spaces during peak food delivery times.
- Move from general parking to pick up/drop off for people and goods to improve kerbside productivity and access to local places. We need the kerbside to work harder to enable more people to access local businesses and services, and for businesses to send and receive deliveries. This means restricting the use of general parking, such as two and four hour zones, in preference for pick up/drop off zones.
- Design and continually upgrade local infrastructure to promote safe use and access for all ages and abilities. We should ensure there is equal physical, digital and financial access to transport and places for everyone in our community. Perceived and actual road and interpersonal safety is crucial to bringing people to places.