The city is working to create a Curb Management Plan that will provide a new, long-range vision for designating, maintaining and operating curbside areas – borders between streets and sidewalks – in Bellevue’s densest neighborhoods. The plan will allow for informed decisions on how curb spaces should be managed as the city continues to grow rapidly and competition for this urban space increases.
More than just parking
Curb areas traditionally have been used for on-street parking, bus stops, travel lanes and similar transportation functions. However, over the last decade, new mobility options for moving people and goods have grown, making curbside areas increasingly more valuable and dynamic. Examples include:
- Rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft
- Employer-operated shuttles, such as Microsoft’s Connector service
- Urban freight delivery providers, such as UPS, FedEx and Amazon
- Curbside charging stations for electric vehicles
- “Micromobility” providers that rent scooters and bicycles
- On-street dining areas
- Green areas, or “parklets,” that enhance the urban environment
Bellevue’s rapid growth – especially in the downtown, BelRed and Wilburton areas – is putting pressure on the city’s infrastructure; curbside zones are anticipated to handle a significant portion of this increased activity. Forward-thinking solutions will be needed to accommodate the wide menu of curbside uses. The CMP will provide a high-level planning framework to help guide the evolution of the city’s curb areas.
The plan will include resources that can be used by members of the public, as well as by city staff. A curbside “guide” will act as a reference for curbside permitting, design and usage. A “prioritization framework” will allow planners to better designate specific uses for curb spaces. The plan will also include strategies, financial analyses and recommendations to improve the management of curbside demands.
In February 2022, the City Council directed staff to develop new and updated policies in support of a CMP. The city’s Transportation Commission and Planning Commission reviewed and discussed recommendations in support of curb management throughout 2022. Final policies were approved at the Dec. 12, 2022, City Council meeting.
How to get involved
People are welcome to attend and provide feedback at Transportation Commission and City Council meetings throughout 2022 and early 2023. Subject material for the CMP will be presented at upcoming meetings.
Earlier in 2022, the project team received public feedback through numerous settings, including an online questionnaire, focus groups and a Curb Summit event. Public feedback can be reviewed in the Engagement Summary report and the EngagingBellevue.com survey summary. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on this initiative.
The CMP effort began in November 2021. The City Council adopted curb-related policies in December 2022 and is anticipated to approve the plan itself in mid-2023. After the plan is adopted, separate efforts will begin addressing recommendations within the plan, and a dedicated curbside data collection program will be launched to continue tracking progress.
The Bellevue Transportation Commission will help guide the development of the CMP. The commission will be supported by city staff and the consultant firm Nelson\Nygaard. Any amendments to comprehensive plan policies recommended by the Transportation Commission will proceed through the Planning Commission before a decision by the City Council.
The city council approved a professional services contract in the amount of $247,786 for work on the CMP.
Project background materials
- Transportation Commission agenda item: CMP review and Pilot Roadmap (March 9, 2023)
- Transportation Commission agenda item: curbside guide and recommendations (Feb. 9, 2023)
- Transportation Commission agenda item: curb typology (Jan. 12, 2023)
- City Council agenda item: Comprehensive Plan amendments (Dec. 12, 2022)
- City Council agenda item: Comprehensive Plan amendments (Nov. 14, 2022)
- Transportation Commission agenda item: curb typology and pricing details (Oct. 13, 2022)
- Planning Commission agenda item: Comprehensive Plan amendments (Sept. 14, 2022)
- Transportation Commission agenda item: curb pricing analysis (July 14, 2022)
- Planning Commission agenda item: Comprehensive Plan amendment review and action (June 22, 2022)
- Transportation Commission agenda item: Comprehensive Plan amendment recommendation (June 9, 2022)
- Transportation Commission agenda item: introduction to curb pricing (June 9, 2022)
- Transportation Commission agenda item: Comprehensive Plan amendment discussion (May 12, 2022)
- Transportation Commission agenda item: introduction to Comprehensive Plan amendments (April 28, 2022)
- Transportation Commission agenda item: existing curb conditions (March 10, 2022)
- Planning Commission agenda item: Comprehensive Plan amendment (March 9, 2022)
- City Council agenda item: project background and action (Feb. 14, 2022)
- Transportation Commission memo: background information and project scope (Jan. 6, 2022)
- Curb Management Plan professional services contract information (Nov. 15, 2021, City Council meeting)
Other background materials
- Curb Typology maps (March 2023)
- State of the Curb – Existing Conditions Report (January 2023)
- Frequently Asked Questions (January 2023)
- Fall/Winter edition of It’s Your City, page 12 (November 2022)
- Curbside Technology Performance Assessment Report (February 2022)
- Curb Management Plan news release (Feb. 17, 2022)
- Curbside management pilot news release (Dec. 10, 2019)
Frequently Asked Questions
What are curb areas and how are they used?
The curb typically is the border area that serves as a functional transition between the street and the sidewalk. Curbside areas serve many functions for the city’s transportation system, including vehicle and bicycle parking; vehicle, transit and bicycle lanes; passenger drop-off for taxis, shuttles, transit and ridehailing services (Lyft, Uber); loading zones for delivery vehicles; rental scooters; and on-street dining.
Why is Bellevue creating a Curb Management Plan and what are the benefits of having a plan?
What will be included within the CMP?
The CMP will be a holistic document highlighting existing practices, reflecting public feedback, identifying policy changes, providing recommendations to improve best practices and accounting for curb supply and demand. The CMP will also include a “pilot roadmap” and organizational recommendations for improved curb management practices.
How does the city manage curb space today?
Today, most curb space is managed ad hoc, meaning that the city primarily addresses immediate challenges and citizen complaints. Additionally, the city lacks a consistent management framework that can be evenly applied across streets within the urban core neighborhoods of Bellevue. Currently, the city has limited resources for curbside enforcement. This can create less-than-ideal curbside conditions such as double-parked vehicles, vehicles blocking bike lanes or vehicles parked longer than the posted limits. Decisions on curb rules and designs are made across multiple departments, leading to inconsistent and inefficient outcomes.
How has the public been involved in this project?
Multiple public meetings with the Transportation Commission, Planning Commission and City Council have occurred throughout the project. In early 2022, the public provided robust feedback through various avenues, including an online questionnaire, focus groups and a Curb Summit event. The online questionnaire asked the public about their curb experiences and needs. The focus groups allowed the project team to hear from key stakeholders that interact with the curb. The virtual Curb Summit was open to the public and allowed practitioners to share findings, best practices and ideas for solutions. Throughout the project, city staff has met with stakeholders and organizations upon request.
What does existing curb data show?
Today, curb usage in Bellevue varies greatly across the urban core neighborhoods. In some areas, curb pressures create challenges for users, while curbs in some areas are underutilized. Generally, curb space use does not currently reflect city policies and transportation plans. Enforcement is limited, with few citations issued.
How will the CMP address gaps in the data?
The CMP is setting the foundation for a regular data collection protocol to monitor curbside activities more effectively. Bellevue's curbs and users are always changing, and it will be important to evaluate those changes over time. The CMP will recommend adding ongoing data resources to track curb usage performance. Additionally, approaches within the CMP, including a “pilot roadmap,” will allow the city to test new ways of collecting curbside data and demonstrating curbside activities.
How does the city manage curb supply?
One role of the CMP is to ensure space at the curb is allocated equitably, reflects city priorities, and recognizes adjacent mobility investments and land use changes. First, it is helpful to know how the curb is used today and how that use compares to city policy. A curb “typology” is being developed to apply city policy to anticipated future curb uses across streets in the study area. There are many considerations for how curb space should be used in any corridor. The typology provides high-level guidance on usage so that decisions can be made consistently across Bellevue's core growth areas.
How does the city manage curb demands?
Demands for curb space are always changing, and demand management is a key pillar of a holistic curb management strategy. Every curb policy (i.e., the regulations and rules we see every time we approach the curbside) sends a signal to users about how they should behave. Curb demand management ensures rules and regulations are intentional and reflect city policy. Various demand management tools exist, and pricing is the most effective at balancing competing needs. Today, Bellevue employs curbside pricing primarily through permitted uses of the curb but does not have common standard curb pricing approaches such as paid on-street parking. The CMP includes demand management recommendations with details to be explored as a next step.
How are supply and demand interrelated?
Supply and demand measures work together. Demand management tools help manage changing supply. Managing curb spaces has grown in importance as demands have increased over time. If curb supply is changed to accommodate a specific use (e.g., two parking spaces are removed to provide a loading zone), demand management tools can be used to reach key performance goals (like the utilization of parking spaces per block).
What is a curb pilot?
A curb pilot is a way of testing new curb designs, management, processes and technologies. A pilot intentionally trials an approach that could be scalable, if successful, and is informed by specific goals. The CMP includes a roadmap that identifies challenges, ideas and strategies for pilot concepts.
How are the CMP recommendations being formed?
The CMP will include recommendations intended to improve curb-related practices and procedures. Early in the project, a policy framework from existing planning documents was identified and translated into project principles to serve as a north star during recommendation development. Quantitative and qualitative data have been collected to explore and confirm curb-related existing conditions that will inform recommendations. Feedback received from the public provides an important qualitative and values-based foundation for recommendations.
For policy deliberation and consistency, the Transportation Commission, Planning Commission and City Council have played an important role during key stages of the process. The Transportation Commission will primarily vet the CMP before City Council provides final input.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Curb / Curbside
The curb is typically the border area between streets and sidewalk spaces. The curb line often takes the form of a physical curb and gutter. Within dense areas of Bellevue like downtown, the curb line oftentimes acts as the official right-of-way line, delineating between public and private property.
In Bellevue’s CMP, “curb space” refers to areas within the public right-of-way closest to the curb line. Depending on the street, this curbside area can be used for various purposes, such as a travel lane, bike lane, on-street parking zone, loading zone or on-street dining area.
Urban Core refers to the four densest neighborhoods in Bellevue. These neighborhoods include Downtown, Wilburton, East Main and BelRed. The CMP study area focuses on the Urban Core.
Curb demands include all competing uses of curb space within the transportation system. More traditional curb space demands include vehicle and transit traffic, on-street parking and bike lanes. In the last decade, newer demands have appeared and include rideshare pick-up and drop-off, small freight deliveries, e-scooters, bikeshare and curbside charging stations for electric vehicles.
Curb supply is the inventory of all curb spaces and associated posted regulations for that curb space. The available curb supply is often reflected by posted signage (i.e., 2-hour parking, 15-minute loading, No Parking Anytime).
Curb typology is a tool and language used to describe the general prioritization of curb spaces block by block. The typology is a high-level framework that will help the city and the public understand the long-range curb vision intended for any given block.
Curb Pilot Roadmap
The roadmap is a component within the CMP that will identify potential pilot projects to test new curbside technologies and strategies. It includes a schedule for potential pilots as mobility technology evolves. For example, the roadmap references autonomous (driverless) vehicles, but will see this as a longer-term outcome, recognizing that it will take many years before these vehicles are common on Bellevue streets.