Dec 14, 2020

A Look Inside the City of Aspen's Smart Zones

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Dawn Miller

VP, Policy & Partnerships

We’re off to an exciting start in Aspen! As a reminder, back in November, we launched our second Smart Zone pilot. This program was a partnership with the City of Aspen, one of four cities selected for our inaugural Digital Curb Challenge. Today, just 30 days in, we are thrilled to share initial findings from our time in the city.

And we must say, we are impressed. Aspen looks to be well on its way to improving safety and efficiency of its bustling downtown area through digitally-driven curb management.

Now let’s dive in.


Fleets Are Taking Notice

From the start, drivers and fleets have been using Aspen’s Smart Zones, and each week, more are taking advantage of the program. After one month, twenty-eight fleets and their drivers are already participating in the program, including a mix of local and regional businesses and national brands such as US Foods, FedEx, Frito Lay, Sysco and UNFI.

This is great to see. With demand on city curbs only continuing to increase as deliveries, rideshare and curbside commerce grow and transform our streets, Smart Zones provide delivery and service vehicle drivers with the information and incentives to load in locations where it is safe and permitted. As a result, Smart Zones improve mobility for everyone visiting a downtown by reducing safety and congestion problems, such as double-parking and blocked pedestrian access.

 

Driver Use of Advance Curb Intelligence

A major benefit of Smart Zones is that they provide drivers with real-time zone-specific availability information during the last leg of their trip. By providing this information ahead of time, drivers can use the mobile devices they already use every day to locate nearby available loading zones and to hold, book, and pay for time in them, providing them a far better alternative to illegally parking directly in front of their destination.

We were therefore delighted to see that in nearly 40% of bookings, the driver used the Smart Zone system’s “hold” function, allowing the driver to reserve the Smart Zone 10 minutes prior to arrival. In the other 60% of bookings, drivers spontaneously booked when they arrived at an available Smart Zone.

But that’s not it! A few other major insights we’ve gleaned from Aspen’s Smart Zone pilot so far include:

 

Popular Loading Times

  • Although Smart Zones are active from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., the most popular times of day for loading are between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. 11 a.m. through 1 p.m. is the next busiest time of day.
  • Although initial data suggests little loading activity past 2 p.m., the City will continue to monitor this trend to see if it persists during the busy winter season.

 

Popular Loading Days

  • Tuesday and Friday are by far the most popular days of the week for loading, followed by Monday.
  • Wednesday and Thursday are the quietest days in Aspen for loading. Aspen sees only about half as many loading events on these days as it sees on Tuesdays.

 

Duration of Loading Activities

  • The average stay at a Smart Zone is 34 minutes. The most common amount of time a driver books is 30 minutes, followed by 60 minutes.
  • Although prices are constant throughout the day, a smaller share of vehicles begins loading early in the day.  These early bird vehicles tend to load for longer periods of time.  Vehicles arriving between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. on average load/dwell for about 80 minutes. Average dwell time decreases considerably as demand for the zones increases in the 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. time period.
  • On heavy snow days, bookings shift later in the day and the average amount of time spent loading decreases by almost 6 minutes.

 

Location of Loading Activity

  • Smart Zones aren’t just curbside anymore! Two alley Smart Zones were among the most popular locations: the alley at 300 West (near Matsuhisa) and the alley at 400 West (near Mi Chola).
  • The most popular curbside Smart Zones so far are located at 300 East Hyman (S side, by the Wheeler), 200 South Galena (E side, by Ute), and 400 South Galena (E side, by Belly Up).

 

We’re delighted with the results in Aspen so far and are looking forward to sharing more of our learnings as the pilot progresses. In the meantime, the City of Aspen will continue to monitor the program and will use the information it generates to modify Smart Zone locations, days and hours of operation, pricing and time limits to optimize commercial drivers’ ability to efficiently find safe and legal loading space when and where they need it. In some cases, when it’s demonstrated there is not a demand for loading space, the City will allocate more space to other uses, such as parking.

If you work for a public agency and are interested in learning about bringing Smart Zones or the Coord platform to your city, you can request a meeting with a member of the Coord team here. If you’re a fleet or driver in Aspen and you want to access Smart Zones, learn how here.

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Dawn Miller

VP, Policy & Partnerships

Dawn is Coord’s VP for Policy and Partnerships. She focuses on Coord's work with public agencies. She previously served as Chief of Staff at the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), the City agency that oversees New York City's taxi, car service and ride-hailing industries. Dawn launched TLC’s Research and Evaluation practice, serving as its first director, and worked as a researcher at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC. She lives with her husband and son in Brooklyn and loves parks, bikes, beaches, stoop-sitting and group fitness.