DC, Montgomery, and Alexandria add pick-up/drop-off zones to help restaurants during the coronavirus

PUDO in Old Town by City of Alexandria.

Most retail businesses are closed for social distancing during the Covid-19 epidemic, but restaurants are continuing to do business entirely as take-out and delivery. To help with that, some area governments are adding more "pick-up/drop-off zones" near restaurants and other take-out businesses.

Pick-up/drop-off zones, sometimes abbreviated PUDOs, reserve portions of the curb for brief stops by taxis, ride-hailing vehicles, deliveries, and the like. In the more traditional curbside layout in DC and other cities, the curb is either used for parking personal vehicles for multiple hours, for bus stops, or for driving. But as use of ride hailing has grown (or was growing, anyway) and in-home deliveries (even more so now), there's a need for space on the curb for these uses which don't block bike lanes or motor vehicle traffic.

During the current epidemic, with people at home and not shopping or visiting restaurants, there's particularly lower need for personal car parking in commercial areas. However, there's much more need for delivery drivers to park for a minute or two while they pick up a food order.

To that end, Montgomery County set up 38 PUDOs in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Pike & Rose, and Wheaton in places with high concentrations of restaurants.

Curbside Food Pickup Zones by MCDOT.

Alexandria installed 34 in Del Ray, Carlyle, and Old Town, and invited businesses to contact the city (scroll down to "Parking") to suggest more.

Image by City of Alexandria.

On Wednesday, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced it added 20 add more PUDO zones around the city from Georgetown to Brookland to Anacostia:

Green stars show new "Essential Services PUDO Zone Locations." Red stars show previously-established, permanent PUDOs. Image by DDOT.

DDOT also created a permit application for others to suggest them. The applications should come from Business Improvement Districts, neighborhood Main Streets programs, or Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, according to the DDOT release. Those organizations apply using the online TOPS system.

The District will waive fees for the permits and not charge for lost parking meter revenue. Traditionally, if a business wants to repurpose a parking meter space for another purpose either temporarily or permanently, they have to pay the cost of what DC might have earned on the parking meter. Now, though, the value of a PUDO likely outweighs that, plus people aren't parking at the meters anyway so DC isn't going to be making money on them.

The DC zones will be repurposed "EMERGENCY NO PARKING" signs, like the ones people use to reserve space for moving trucks. (Usually they are something of a misnomer since a moving truck, while a good reason for a temporary parking restriction, isn't an emergency, though the sitation right now certainly is!)

Seattle, Raleigh, and other cities are taking similar steps to establish these zones around restaurants.

Where do you think there should be PUDOs in your community?

This article has been modified to include Alexandria, which also had established PUDOs.