One issue we often hear from cities is that it can be difficult to determine how much loading space is needed to meet the needs of different types of businesses or neighborhoods.
So, we went to work and began to develop a process to help a city identify which neighborhoods to prioritize for deeper evaluation of their loading zone needs. To do so, we used Coord and other datasets to look at all restaurant, venue and store parcels in Seattle.
This analysis can serve as one tool to help determine whether there is sufficient loading space for the estimated level of retail loading activity at these locations.
Because each restaurant or other business doesn’t usually have its own dedicated curbside loading space, we assume that these businesses are sharing loading spaces. For the purposes of this analysis, we classify any restaurant/store within a 300-foot radius of another restaurant/store (~1-2 minute walk) as “nearby.”
To build this analysis, we combined a few datasets. To obtain information about the locations of all restaurants and stores in Seattle, we used Seattle’s parcel data, available on their public data portal, and filtered to include only parcels with land uses that are likely to contain restaurants, stores and venues.
To find the number and length of loading zones within a radius of these parcels, we used the City of Seattle’s regulation data, which is accessible in Coord (see Figure 1). We filtered the data to include only the types of loading zones restaurants and stores would be using; that is, goods loading zones available to any driver and commercial/truck loading zones. Seattle’s passenger loading zones were not included. We used QGIS, a GIS platform, to analyze the relationships between loading zones and parcels.
Figure 1. A map in Coord, filtered for loading and commercial/truck loading in Downtown Seattle at 10:30AM on a weekday.
In the maps below, we’re representing the average amount of loading space (in feet) at 10:30am on a weekday, when dividing up the total length of curbside loading space “nearby” each restaurant by the number of restaurants “nearby” that are also sharing this space. The colors of the parcels correspond to the amount of loading space per parcel, relative to other parcels in Seattle. Red indicates less loading space per parcel. Green indicates more loading space per parcel.
As we looked through the map, there was significant variation across neighborhoods with respect to the amount of space allocated to curbside loading space.
For example, in Figure 2 below, you’ll see that there is 40 feet (or more) of loading space, equivalent to 2 car lengths, for each restaurant/venue in this section of Downtown Seattle as well as for all restaurants “nearby”.
Figure 2. A map of restaurant parcels in Downtown Seattle with comparatively more loading zone space/parcel. The numbers next to each parcel represent feet of nearby loading zones/nearby parcel.
In contrast, you’ll see a different story when looking at Figure 3, a snapshot of Seattle’s Queen Anne at the same time of day and day of week. This is another commercial core in Seattle, and yet almost every restaurant/store has less than 20 ft. of loading space (1 car length), and many less than 10 ft., when accounting for the other restaurants/stores nearby.
Figure 3. A cluster of restaurant/venue parcels in Seattle’s Queen Anne, with comparatively less loading space/parcel. The numbers next to each parcel represent feet of nearby loading zones/nearby parcel.
Of course, there’s a lot of context that matters in evaluating an area’s loading zone needs. The availability of alleys, parking lots or off-street loading bays, for example, might mean a neighborhood has greater access to loading space than its curbside regulations would suggest. The time of day, the types of restaurants/venues and the average delivery size may also play a role in demand for the space.
However, we hope that this sort of analysis is a useful starting point for a city to be able to relatively quickly gain insights about the supply of curbside loading space, relative to need, citywide.
If you have any questions or feedback on our approach or would like to learn about working with Coord, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.