Pittsburgh Pilots Two Smart Loading Zones To Manage Curbside Delivery

The City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Transportation (DOMI) is piloting two smart loading zones projects to better manage curbside delivery parking. The projects will use pole-mounted video cameras, machine learning, a short-term fee structure, and an app to help drivers use loading zones more efficiently.

“We’ve seen a dramatic uptick in commercial curb activity in recent years, and that has only increased more dramatically during the pandemic,” said Erin Clark, a policy advisor with the department. “We not only have cars being parked there and delivery vehicles, but we have Ubers, Lyfts, transportation network companies, food deliveries, parcel deliveries…. We see a lot of double-parking, a lot of idling for longer than is necessary, which creates safety and environmental concerns.”

(DOMI) has been awarded a grant valued at $100,000 US for technical assistance from Automotus – a technology company focused on mobility equity solutions – to analyze, design, and implement a strategy to improve curbside efficiency for short-term parking to help restaurants and small businesses.  They will create 20 smart loading zones in dense commercial districts throughout the city as soon as November of this year.

Earlier this year, the city received a three-year, $3.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop zero-emissions delivery. Under this grant, Pittsburgh will continue to partner with Automotus to substantially expand the number of smart loading zones in the city, with an emphasis on incentivizing electric vehicle adoption.

“This DOE grant is proposing a first-of-its-kind…effort in using curb management to prioritize zero-emission vehicles and scale EV deployments in metropolitan areas with historically bad air quality,” Clark said. “We’ll…see how we can use curb management tactics to incentivize electric vehicles for deliveries.” 

The cameras used at the smart loading zones will gather data on the types of activities happening curbside, such as parcel delivery, food delivery, ride-hailing, patron parking, bus riding or other activities and measure which of these vehicles are electric or combustion engines. The collected data will be analyzed to see what vehicles are using the curbside for what purpose to determine policies that can enhance the safety and efficiency of parking, traffic flow, and incentivize the use of electric vehicles.