We are all going to have to become "Curbside Experts" as a result of the competing demands for outdoor dining, retail pickup and drop off, rideshare services, and much more.
The rush to reopen restaurants has resulted in large numbers of documented cases where vehicles have crashed into outdoor dining and curbside dining spots in New York and a half a dozen other states. We have been tracking these incidents and including them in the Storefront Safety Council database. I was given a chance to offer a viewpoint about how the Covid pandemic has changed how property owners use their parking lots, how stores and restaurants use the sidewalk and curbs right in front of their entries, and how Big Box retailers and others have had to adapt to offer curbside delivery, drop off/pickup, and so many other forms of physical distancing.
Thanks to Kim Fernandez of Parking & Mobility Magazine for the chance to contribute and to post that viewpoint here.
Parking Lots, Public Spaces, Social Distancing, and Safety
By Rob Reiter
Six months into dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are finding ways to keep commerce moving amid many restrictions on use, occupancy, and physical spacing. In addition, the sharp drop in the use of public transportation has increased the pressures for re-purposing some very valuable real estate — curbs, parking lots, and parking structures.
Restaurants are expanding out onto sidewalks and curbside locations all over the United States; more than 8,000 permits have been issued in New York City alone. Exposure of diners and waitstaff to passing vehicles has already been documented with security camera footage from more than a half-dozen injury accidents since late June.
Restaurants are also expanding into their off-street parking areas–physical distancing requirements along with the attraction of fresh air and sunshine for people who have been staying home for so long have made such arrangements very popular. Some restaurants are handling this better than others.
Retailers of all stripes have jumped onto the curbside bandwagon at shopping malls, regional centers, and basic strip centers. Companies providing services for retailers report doubling and re-doubling of retailers offering it along with customers taking advantage of the convenience and safety that the service offers.
I expect that 2021 will see the start of a national campaign where “Share the Curb” will become a battle zone between restaurants, retailers, rideshare providers, and local merchants like salons and small retailers who want to keep parking near their stores convenient for their customers.
Read more about what this means for the parking industry and why safety is a big concern in this month’s issue of Parking & Mobility magazine.
Rob Reiter is co-founder of the Storefront Safety Council