Cities are dynamic urban-living spaces. It is the combined responsibility of urban planners, transportation engineers, parking organizations and public policymakers to ensure that we offer the public the fundamental premise of urban living: moving people, goods and services.
From time immemorial, the curb has represented a buffer between pedestrians and moving traffic. In the 1930s, the parking business came of age when the first meters were installed in the U.S. In those days, the use of the curb was limited to parking, bus lanes, taxis stands and loading zones. Until the appearance of other transportation modalities, competition for the curbside access was organic.
However, in the last two decades, with an increase in new modes of transportation and the explosion of e-commerce, this urban real estate asset has been experiencing irritating competition. With more people shopping online, accelerated by the Covid-19 outbreak, parcel-delivery vehicles do not have enough commercial loading zones and parking spaces to serve the explosion of e-sales.
With the advent of on-demand mobility services, such as Uber and Lyft, Freebee, Revel shared mopeds and soon to peek ahead the autonomous vehicles, the use of the curb has exploded.
Consequently, the need to equitably balance competing commercial as well as community interests, supports the argument for sound urban-planning policies and technology innovation to adequately meet and manage curbside demand in dense urban environments.
At a time when Miami is grabbing national attention as the new technology and financial hub of the South; simultaneously, the Miami Parking Authority (MPA) is emerging as a leader in parking innovation. Long recognized by the industry as a pioneer in the early adoption of mobile parking payment, shared and micro-mobility and in-ground sensor technology, the Authority is on the cusp of refashioning the city’s urban curb.
Globally, there is an uptick in the number of people who are moving from rural areas to downtowns and urban cores to be close to major employment centers. With that in mind, inertia is not an option and MPA cannot not sit still and overlook the impending demographic changes that lie ahead.
The influx of new Miamians comes from states with robust public transportation networks. These newcomers are used to living in transit-oriented urban areas and rely on public transportation to move about their cities. Additionally, as the younger demographic becomes part of the work and community life, mostly millennials and Gen-Xers, their attitudes toward ridesharing, biking, scootering and skateboarding supersede their desire to own a car.
At MPA, we have observed these trend lines for a while. We feel a deep sense of responsibility to collaborate with our city, county and state partners to develop initiatives that improve mobility, reduce traffic congestion and relive the demand pressures of the curb.
With an eye on the future, a few years ago MPA established a Command Center, which oversees activity in garages and lots 24/7, 365 days a year. Since the curb is a dynamic space, in the future this communication platform will help us monitor and manage it in real time.
Furthermore, while the curb may look the same across sections of the city, its use varies from block to block. That is why the technology cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution. Deployment of these concepts will take time. Notwithstanding, MPA remains committed to diligently pilot, test and deploy a suite of tools that will help enhance mobility and support the economic growth, quality of life and social prosperity of the Miami community.
In the end, none of these concepts will ever work without the public benefit at heart. A commitment to serving the needs of the public guides our decisions and remains the hallmark of what we stand for.