Cincinnati’s Curb of the Future

Allison Wylie
Uber Under the Hood
3 min readJan 28, 2019


A year ago, Uber partnered with the City of Cincinnati to announce the Cincinnati Mobility Lab, a multi-year partnership that seeks to develop innovative transportation strategies in collaboration with the City of Cincinnati and local transit and business organizations. As part of that work, we’re excited to release a new study that looks at the potential to increase the efficiency and productivity of curb space in Cincinnati.

In Cincinnati, as in many cities, curb space is a scarce resource. With multiple modes of transportation vying for access to the curb — from personal vehicles, buses, commercial vehicles and rideshare vehicles, to bicycles and pedestrians — Cincinnati has joined the ranks of cities around the world that are looking for ways to make curb space safer and more efficient.

To support the City of Cincinnati’s efforts to improve congestion, access, and mobility, Uber commissioned a study with Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants that analyzed a combination of rideshare pick-up and drop-off activity data, traffic count data, video documentation, and in-person observations. The goal of the study was to identify potential improvements to curb space allocation and traffic management in some of the City’s busiest downtown corridors. You can see the full report here.

Building off of Fehr & Peers’ San Francisco Curb Study released last fall, as well as a growing body of policy, planning, and engineering studies from organizations like NACTO, the ITF, and the ITE — we worked with Fehr & Peers and city staff to identify and study three different high-activity areas in Cincinnati — the main intersection outside of the Great American Ball Park, home to the Cincinnati Reds; Freedom Way, a bustling nightlife strip adjacent to the Ball Park; and finally, the Aronoff Center on Walnut Street, home to a vibrant restaurant, retail, and theatre scene. All three locations experience high levels of curb space demand by a variety of modes, including passenger loading activity via rideshare vehicles.

Rendering representing current conditions at one of the 3 case study locations: Walnut Street between Seventh Street and Sixth Street, home to the Aronoff Center, a popular theatre and concert venue.

Strategies to Improve Curb Productivity and Circulation

Through a combination of collecting and analyzing traffic count data, video and photo documentation, in-person observations, and Uber activity data for each of the three locations, Fehr & Peers leveraged traffic engineering principles as well as a Curb Productivity Index (first introduced in the San Francisco Curb Study), to understand the loading demand at each location as well as the productivity levels of each unit of curb — or the number of vehicles a curb space is able to serve per unit of time.

The report laid out a series of actionable suggestions to better accommodate the safe and efficient movement of people. For each location, Fehr & Peers found that rethinking how the curb space is allocated can help increase the productivity of the curbside, improving access for people as well as reducing congestion. By freeing up space that is currently occupied by a row of parked cars and converting that into a more productive passenger loading zone, Fehr & Peers found that the City can improve travel flow by reducing the delay caused by passenger loading in the travel lanes. In addition to curb allocation changes, Fehr & Peers recommended a variety of traffic management improvements from enhanced wayfinding and traffic control for motorists, area-wide strategies that establish a network of passenger loading zones surrounding high-activity areas, to greater enforcement of loading zones including valet zones.

Rendering outlining Fehr & Peers’ recommendations for reconfiguring the curb space designation on Walnut Street between Seventh Street and Sixth Street. The recommendations are based on the results from their curb productivity analysis and assessment of the various activity types and user needs of the block.

When we announced the Cincinnati Mobility Lab, we committed to working closely with the City and stakeholders across the community to help tackle some of the City’s most pressing transportation challenges. Thinking strategically about how to use curb space is a critical first step to building smarter and more efficient streets of the future. We look forward to working with the City of Cincinnati to dig into the report’s findings, explore ways to implement the strategies, and share successes with other communities to ensure the benefits of innovative design strategies are enjoyed elsewhere.